Category: Marketing

Weekend Work: Create a Mailing List Using MailChimp

Create a Mailing List Using MailChimp

 Task 2: Create a Mailing List using 

Create a Mailing List using MailChimp

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

 This Weekend’s Task: Create a Email List

Goal: Start an campaign. Use MailChimp’s free service to collect emails of customers and interested potential customers. Then use the list to reach them directly. 

This is the perfect weekend to get started on an email marketing campaign if you don’t already have one.

1. Don’t be intimidated by the words “email marketing campaign.” Services like MailChimp and Constant Contact have been around for years and have made email marketing simple and virtually free for small business owners.

2. Start now. If people have signed up for your email list, that means they are already interested in your products or services. Why would you fritter that resource away?

3. Create an account on MailChimp. Why Mailchimp and not Constant Contact? In a word, integration. MailChimp continually ensures its mail product will just plain work with all the leading email, social media and web platforms. It’s hassle free and, in addition, it continually refreshes its templates and designs to keep pace with design standards and trends.

The one thing you must know about email lists before you do anything.

You may be tempted to just import all of your business contacts to MailChimp and start emailing away.

NOPE. It is required by law that you receive express permission by a person to add them to your mailing list. Express permission means it is verifiable. It is required in the terms of use of all email marketing software. You can read more about the importance of permission here.

Get to Work: Take the Tutorial

MailChimp tutorials abound. I like NYCTechClub’s “How To Use MailChimp Tutorial – STEP BY STEP – 2016”, so I’ve posted it here.

Note: This tutorial doesn’t address collecting emails. Collecting emails (via Facebook, your website and beyond) is a separate task.


If you have questions on collecting emails, creating email campaigns or MailChimp in general, drop me a line. I am more than happy to help. 

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.

 

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.