How To Create Your First Business Website – In 8 Simple Steps

How To Create Your First Business Website – In 8 Simple Steps

Your website is the foundation for your online presence.

It doesn’t matter where or how or how often you advertise online, all the leads you generate land on your website. So, it only stands to reason that your site needs to be clear, useful and well designed for the needs of your audience.

Before you start worrying about Google AdWords, banner ads, Facebook or search engine optimization, you need to make sure that your site is effective enough to convert all those website hits into qualified leads. Otherwise it’s like sending all your friends to a bad restaurant – no one is going to want to go back.

The quality and quantity of ‘useful’ information on the site will impact how many people can find it in search engines and consequently the number of daily ‘hits’ your site will earn. The more hits you earn, the more your online marketing will drive sales and profits, and isn’t that the goal?

Ready to get started?

This Post will cover:

  • How to create a website that is user-friendly
  • Why your site may need to be redesigned or updated
  • The benefits of using a firm to build your site
  • A step-by-step process for creating a website
  • How to optimize your site for search engines

Create a website that is designed for your existing and prospective customers to use.

Many business owners get really excited about creating their websites, and get completely wrapped up in the design process. Usually this results in fancy flash sites that are difficult to use, take forever to load, and drive customers away.

The website is not about the needs of your business, but about the needs of your customers. What do they need to know about how your product or service will solve their problem or meet their need? What additional information would they benefit from learning from you? What do they need to know before they pick up the phone and contact you?

Every business is unique, and will have a different purpose for their website. Some will have an online store, while others will have three simple pages relevant product and contact information. An effective website is one that meets the needs of the target market.

If your business has an existing website, it might be time for an update or a complete redesign.

It’s time to take a critical look at the website your business currently has online. Of course, if your site is experiences a high number of daily hits and has a high conversion rate (converting ‘hits’ into leads), you may not need to revamp it. However, I recommend you always look for opportunities to improve.

Does your website look professional and of a high quality design?

There are millions of websites out there, but unfortunately many look sloppy, templated, and unprofessional. In all areas of your business your first impression matters and this includes your website. Prospects who know nothing about your company will judge your product or service based on how your homepage looks and feels. A well-designed website will attract customers and begin to build trust and confidence in your offering.

Has your business grown since you built your website?

If it has been a while since you built your site, chances are your business has grown and so has your customer base. This is great, but you need to check in with your current website and make sure it still provides accurate and relevant information about your products and services.

It also may be time to take your site to the next level. Here are some suggestions:

  • Online customer support
  • Online purchase of products or services
  • Frequently asked questions
  • Customer feedback form
  • E-mail newsletters or auto-responders
  • Free ‘expert’ information

Where does your website rank when searched on Google and other search engines?

When you take the time to build a website, you want to make sure that people can find you when they search the major online search engines. If you are a dog groomer, you want your site to be in the top 10 when people search for dog care and products in your area. You want your site to rank higher than the competition on the list.

If you didn’t design your site for search engine optimization (SEO), then redesigning it to rank higher is a smart investment for any business. I’ll explain more about SEO and using keywords later on in the post.

Unless you’re a web designer, I highly recommend outsourcing the creation of your website to an experienced person or firm.

The reason for this is simple. It’s really hard to create a site that looks and functions professionally when you have little experience in web design. Plus, you’re busy running and growing your business, and building websites can be a huge drain on your time – especially if you’re building your first one.

Customers’ don’t trust sites that look like amateurs have created them, so spend your time choosing a good web designer and leave it up to the experts. Here are some tips for finding a firm or freelancer:

> You get what you pay for. Avoid the temptation to go with the cheapest web design company or contractor. If you end up with a poorly designed site, it will cost you more money in the long run, driving away customers and needing to be redone.

> Ask around for referrals. Ask colleagues and other business owners who they used to build their sites or can recommend anyone. You can also do a search to locate local web designers.

> Contact a few firms for a quote. Make sure they can turn the quote around in a timely fashion, which shows they can give you the time and service you require.

> Get a fixed fee quote with a payment plan. A fixed-fee quote will keep your costs predictable. Make sure the payment plan is fair; don’t pay more than 50% up front before the project is completed.

> Check out the company’s portfolio. Aside from deciding if the company is a good working fit for your business, make sure they do good work. Look at their past web projects and make sure they design good-looking, easy to use sites.

> Make sure they make Google-friendly websites. The majority of websites are found through search engines, so if your business doesn’t show up on the first two pages of Google searches for related keywords, you’re going to have a hard time generating hits.

website great for customer

1. Decide what your customers need from your website.

Just like any of your marketing materials, when creating a website you need to first stop and think about your target audience. In this case, you want to consider how your market is going to use your website, how web savvy they are, as well as how much information they need to know about your business before they contact you.

Ask yourself:

  • Who are my target audience?
  • What is the purpose of my website?
  • What do viewers need to know to convince them to make contact?
  • Will I need to sell products or services online?

Based on your answers, there are basically two types of sites you could set up for your business:

1. Content Site. This is the type of site you see most often, as it is fairly inexpensive and easy to create. It provides product, service and company information, as well as other useful information relevant to the business offering. The customer has to go in store or contact you to make a purchase.

2. E-Commerce Site. This is a site that sells products or services online through PayPal or a credit card processing company. This is a more expensive site to create that requires much more maintenance and attention. Other considerations include shipping, payment security, inventory updates, order forms and customer relations.

select domain name

2. Register a domain name that’s easy to remember and then select a web host.

Choose a domain name, and register it online.

A domain name is your ‘address’ or ‘location’ on the Internet. It’s the phrase a customer will type in to find your website. Your domain name can be any combination of letters and numbers up to 63 characters, and followed by an ‘extension’ like .com, .ca, or .biz.

A good domain name:

  • Is short and easy to remember.
  • Is simple and easy to spell.
  • Reflects your business.
  • Usually ends in .com

To register your domain name, simply search “register domain name,” and find a registration website. You will need to first search the availability of your domain name, then secure it by registering it to your name for one or more years.

Choose a web host.

A web host is a company that stores your web site on their servers and transmits the files to the internet so that when someone goes to your domain name your website appears.

When you have your domain name registered, you will have to choose a hosting company. The key here is to find a host that offers great tech support and is available 24/7. If something happens and your website goes down, you’ll need to be able to reach them quickly to fix the problem.

There are a variety of web hosts out there, and many major Internet providers will also offer hosting services. If you are using a web design company, they will be able to recommend a quality host.

great website wequipu.com

3. Hire an expert to help build your website.

Like I said above, I highly recommend using a web design company to build your website – especially if you are building an e-commerce site. The process for finding and hiring a firm is explained earlier in this post.

If you do decide to create it yourself, there are many website-building programs out there, and some web hosts even offer templates for you to use. If you choose this option, ensure that your copy and images are as clear and simple as possible. Don’t attempt to earn any design awards, or you may run the risk of producing an amateur site.

Remember that attractive web design will draw visitors to your site, and engage them in what you offer. Many people will judge a product or company based on the design of the site, which means that a good web design can potentially help your business grow.

However, also be aware that content is still king. It’s easy to get wrapped up in flashy design and lose focus of the content or purpose of your site. Make sure there is a healthy balance.

4. Use keywords throughout your web copy.

keywords seo wequipu.comOne of the key strategies for search engine optimization is the incorporation of keywords in your body copy. Keywords are the most common words and phrases that people use to search for when looking for businesses like yours, or any other type of information online. When the words are entered, the search engine delivers the top sites that relate to those keywords – there may be millions of them.

If your website is search engine optimized, it will appear in the top 20 to 30 sites displayed, which will usually generate a high volume of traffic to your website. If you don’t use keywords, you will have a difficult time brining your website up the search engine rankings.

If you’ve hired a web design firm, they should be well versed in SEO and able to help you write your copy with keywords in mind. To find out what keywords you should incorporate, go to Overture or WordTracker and follow the steps.

You will enter some common search phrases a customer may use to find you, and hundreds of similar search terms will be listed, along with frequency. The more often you use the high frequency search phrases in your copy, the better the SEO of your site.

5. Publish your site by uploading it online.

website wequipu.comWhen the files that comprise your website are complete, you will need to upload them to your web host’s server in order to ‘publish’ your site or make it live.

If you are using a web design firm, they will usually take care of this for you. If you are building your site yourself, you will need to use an FTP program like FileZilla to login to the host server and upload the files to your domain.

If you want to make edits to the site yourself, you will have to download the files to your computer, make changes, and then upload them to the host server again. Be clear with the company that designed the site about the procedure for making changes. The most current files should always be the ones on the host server, because it can get complicated if edits are being made in two places, with two sets of files.

6. Test your website for usability.

When your site is published, invite your friends and colleagues to “test drive” it for user-friendliness. Watch them as they fill in forms, submit quote requests, edit user accounts or profiles, make a purchase or even just find key information. Don’t help them along, just sit back and see how easy it is to navigate around your website as a customer. You may find areas that you need to tweak or improve.

test first website7. Register with search engines and tell everyone about your site.

Ensure that your site will get listed with major search engines. Register your website address with the top search engines so prospects can find your business. 70% of web surfers find sites through search engines, so you really can’t afford not to. Most a free, but some will charge a nominal fee for the registration. It’s worth the investment.

Click on the following links to register your site:

Send your friends, customers and colleagues an email announcement. Send an email announcement to your customer database, as well as your business partners and colleagues announcing the launch of your new site. Provide a link for them to easily access the new page.

Exchange links with complementary businesses. If you know of other complementary businesses with websites (make sure they’re not competitors) offer to exchange links and post them on each other’s sites. Generally, the more sites that legitimately link to yours, the higher your search rating will be.

Promote your website offline too! Don’t forget to include your website address everywhere you include your contact information. This goes for ads, brochures, direct mail pieces, business cards, business listings and letterhead. Use an email address with your domain name.

8. Implement a system for tracking traffic on your website.

website analytics wequipu.com Establish an in store system for tracking leads generated from your website. Include your website as a lead source in your tracking systems, or when you ask customers where they heard about your business. This will give you a sense of how many people you are converting from website hits to qualified leads.

Build a tracking system into your website with Google Analytics. Use an online metrics measurement system like Google Analytics to monitor the traffic your site generates. Google Analytics is free to use, and easy to set up. Register at http://www.google.com/analytics/ and have your web design company insert a small tracking code on each of your web pages. Google Analytics offers a comprehensive range of tracking and web analysis tools, and will measure metrics like:

  • how many people visited your website
  • which pages they visited
  • where they came from (geographically)
  • where they came from (online – search engine, link, other site, direct)
  • at which page they left the site

You can then use this information to restructure the copy on your website so that the pages with the highest traffic also have the most important messages. You will also be able to see which advertisements are drawing the highest traffic, and drop the ads that are generating the least.

The world of online marketing can be a confusing and challenging place, but the best strategies start with a strong, user-friendly website.

Once your website is up and running, remember that it’s an evolving tool for you to use and change as the need arises. Keep the content fresh, and look for new opportunities to make it more useful to your customers.

Don’t forget to monitor the site’s performance on a weekly or monthly basis. Like everything else in your marketing plan you need to track the results to find out what is and isn’t working.

Here’s To Your Success!

 

The 6 Things You Should Know To Craft Powerful Offers in Your Business

The 6 Things You Should Know To Craft Powerful Offers in Your Business

Focus on using powerful offers to generate leads, not to close sales.

Powerful offers that drive your audience to take action can be used in your business to do a myriad of things. They’re great for moving old or overstocked product, overcoming buyer objections, eliminating purchase risk, or even just building your customer database.

Well-crafted offers are also fantastic lead generators – which is what we’re going to focus on in this post. In this case, the offer is designed to get potential customers to identify themselves, not to close sales. Once those potential customers have identified themselves – they’ve taken action to redeem the offer – they enter the formal sales process and you can convert them into a loyal customer.

Offers designed to be lead generators drive more qualified prospects to your business. They weed out the buyers who would take advantage of your offer, but who are not otherwise a part of your target market.

I’m going to show you how to speak to your target market’s “hot buttons” and emotional motivators, instead of simply crafting an offer based on financial savings or bonuses. Let’s get started!

In this post we will cover:

  • The elements that make an offer ‘powerful’
  • A step-by-step process for creating a powerful offer
  • Types of powerful offers
  • Examples of powerful offers
  • Testing and measuring your powerful offers

A powerful offer is irresistible to your potential customers’ emotional motivators.

In simple terms, a powerful offer gets people to respond, or take action. It will provide enough motivation for the reader to pick up the phone, visit your website, or walk into your store.

Often, powerful offers are called irresistible offers because they seem too good to pass up. They make your target audience think, “Wow! This is the chance I’ve been waiting for!” or, “I’d be nuts not to take advantage of this opportunity!”

Using emotional motivators in your offer will drive qualified prospects to your business, and will make the job of converting customers into repeat business easier and more cost effective.

A powerful offer will feature an element of urgency or scarcity as a key motivator for action.

If I offered “2 for 1 Mother Daughter haircuts” every day of the year, chances are I wouldn’t have a stampede of prospects at my door. I would likely draw a few new clients a week, but the majority of those who saw the offer – even if they were interested – would probably put it off for later.

When you create an offer for lead generation, you want your prospect to take action as soon as possible. Now, let’s face it, we’re all procrastinators at heart, so you have to give your audience a reason to take action without delay.

So, instead of just “2 for 1 Mother Daughter haircuts,” I could offer, “2 for 1 Mother Daughter haircuts, Mother’s Day weekend – 20 spots available, book your appointment today!” This offer has an element of urgency – the offer is only valid for a two-day period – and scarcity – there are a limited number of appointments during those two days.

Here are some other ways I could use scarcity or urgency to ‘sweeten’ the offer:

Strategy Scarcity / Urgency Example
Limited time offer Urgency 2 for 1 Mother Daughter haircuts – Mondays from 1pm to 4pm.
Limited supplies available Scarcity Free! Mother’s Day gift ($50 value) with purchase for the first 20 customers on Mother’s Day.
Seasonal specials Urgency Mother’s Day Special: buy one, get one free on any service in our spa, Mother’s Day weekend only.
Free gift with action Scarcity Bring your mom in for a free haircut on Mother’s Day, and receive a salon bonus pack, worth $45, absolutely free!
Daily deal Urgency Book an appointment with us by the end of the day, and we’ll add on a free haircut for your daughter.

Let’s walk through an easy step-by-step process for creating powerful offers that will generate qualified leads for your business.

how-to-define-your-target-market

1. Establish who you are trying to target, and what you want them to do.

Like all of your lead generation efforts, you need to establish who your target market or audience is before you can attempt to reach them. In most cases, this will be the target market you originally identified. In my salon example, the target market is middle-class women aged 18 to 65 with an interest in the latest trends in fashion and beauty.

You may also wish to segment that group of people into a more specific category. I could limit my target audience to those women in my target market with daughters.

Secondly, you must be clear about what you want your readers to do, and ask them to do it in your offer. Since you’re creating an offer to generate leads, in this case you want readers to identify themselves in some way, and make contact with you. In my example above, I asked customers to call and reserve their appointment today. You may ask your readers to come to the store for a free trial, or place an online order.

hot button offer triggers2. Identify the emotional motivators or “hot buttons” that will get your target to take action.

Using the categories below, decide why your target market needs or wants what you have to offer. How do they feel in general about your product or service? What problem does your offer provide the solution to?

  • Safety and financial security for self and family
  • Convenience and time management
  • Freedom from worry
  • Self-improvement
  • Acceptance and recognition from others
  • Basic needs, including food, shelter, love, personal maintenance, etc.

In my example, I’m targeting the emotions associated with the bond between mothers and daughters, especially on Mother’s Day, and their common interest in beauty services. The offer alludes to an opportunity to spend time with each other, an activity for Mother’s Day, and a way to save money while doing so.

emotional triggers3. Once you have identified the emotions you will try to target, determine which type of offer will work best.

Free Offer
Ask your potential customer to act immediately for a free reward. This is a great lead generator if you can offer a solution to a common problem for free. Examples would be “Contact me now to receive your free 10-page guide to financial freedom,” or “Act now and get your first month of home security for free – a $99 value!” Try to include the dollar value of what you are providing for free to increase the perceived value.

Guarantee Offer
Guarantee the performance of your product or results of your service, and you’ll take away the fear many customers feel when making a purchase. This is a great way to overcome barriers when a customer is making a large or important purchase, or when safety and security are involved.

  • Money-back guarantee: full refund for unsatisfied customers.
  • Double-your-money-back guarantee: double refund for unsatisfied customers.
  • Long-term guarantee: one year, multi-year or lifetime guarantee.

Free Trial or Demonstration Offer
Another great way to reverse purchase risk is to offer a free trial (7, 14, or 30 days) or to provide a free demonstration. This works with all kinds of products or services, and allows the customer to convince himself that he needs what you have to offer. Those customers who are concerned about making the right purchase decision will be put at ease by this offer.

Package or Value-Added Offer
This offer appeals to customers looking for convenience because their needs are met in one place or one purchase, like start-up kits and special packages. Packaging products also increases the perception of value, often without adding costs. For example, offering a free printer with computer purchase.

Premium Offer
Always offer premiums over discounts, as they will better serve your bottom line. Reward purchases with bonus products or services, and you’ll give new customers an incentive for choosing your business over the competition.

hard to refuse offers4. Draft several hard-to-refuse offers based on these motivators.

Brainstorm as many different types of offers as you can, using emotional keywords or hot buttons. Depending on the type of business you have, and the products or services you offer, you may wish to focus on a single product or service, or open up the offer to all the items you have in store.

Are there any freebies you can throw in? Any overstock that can be handed out as a free gift, packaged with a complementary product? What about bonus services that you can add on to products for a limited time (with limited costs)? Will a simple guarantee make a big difference? Remember that when you are describing your offer, be as specific as possible and avoid

What about bonus services that you can add on to products for a limited time (with limited costs)? Will a simple guarantee make a big difference? Remember that when you are describing your offer, be as specific as possible and avoid lengthy description of product details and benefits. Your goal is to sell the offer and motivate readers to take the next step, not to sell your product.

offers targets5. Evaluate the financial viability of each of your brainstormed offers.

Even though you’re using these offers as lead generation tools, you need to make sure that each transaction will turn an acceptable profit – or at least allow you to break even. The last thing you want to have happen is a store full of leads redeeming an outrageous offer that will leave you broke.

So, for each of your brainstormed offers, calculate your break-even point. If I were offering 2 for 1 Mother Daughter haircuts, my calculation would look something like this:

A. Costs: Determine the costs involved in your offer (hard costs – product or service, and soft costs – advertising or marketing).

Service costs:
Adult Haircut: $20
Junior Haircut: $10

Marketing costs:
Advertising: $200
Flyer Drop: $100

B. Profit: Assess how much profit you’ll generate per sale (price minus hard costs).

Adult Haircut: $40 (price) – $20 (cost) = $20 profit
Junior Haircut: $0 (offered free) – $10 (cost) = $10 expense

Profit: $20 – $10 = $10 profit per transaction

C. Break Even Point: Calculate how many transactions you’ll need to break even (how much profit will you need to make to cover soft costs).

Advertising (total): $300
Profit: $10
Transactions: $300 / $10 = 30 transactions required to break even.

From here you can assess whether or not you can realistically break even, and if your offer is financially viable. In this example, 30 transactions is a reachable target for my salon over the course of a weekend. I may also consider extending the offer over the course of a week, maintaining an element of urgency, but allowing more time to recover my costs.

Keep in mind that their initial purchase in response to your offer may only allow you to break even, but if you are able to convert them into repeat customers, the profit of their subsequent purchases may make up the difference.

offers target6. Select two of your financially viable offers, then test them to measure which works best.

I like to test two offers at a time when I first start to use this lead generation strategy. This will tell me what emotional motivators really work with my target audience, and then I can continue to build on that knowledge.

Use your lead tracking system to measure which offers generate the highest number of leads. If coupons are a part of your offer, put a tracking code on each of them, or make sure that your staff are asking every inquiry which offer they are responding to.

Remember, testing and measuring is a vital component of your lead generation efforts, and it elicits some really valuable information. Once you know what works with your audience, you can use that information on emotional motivators to influence decisions you make when writing headlines and other copy.

Get creative and put together new and exciting offers for your potential clients on a regular basis.

Remember – you’ll need to keep improving and revising your offers to ensure you continue to draw leads from them. Otherwise, your audience will get used to seeing the same offer, assume it is always available, and it may become stale.

Use opportunities like seasons, events, anniversaries and other celebrations to change and renew offers. When you bring in a new product line, feature a new service, or try to go after a new segment of your target market, check-in to see if you can create an offer around the news and bring in some new leads.

See you in the next one!

 

7 Easy To Follow Steps To Generate More Leads with Less Effort Right Now

7 Easy To Follow Steps To Generate More Leads with Less Effort Right Now

What is the current picture of lead generation and management in your business?

Here’s the deal: in order to start generating more leads with less time and financial investment, you first have to spend time setting up systems and making some changes.

7 Steps Needed to Generate More Leads NOW:

  • The current status of lead generation in your company
  • The purpose of lead tracking and management systems
  • Types of lead tracking and lead management systems
  • How to set up a lead tracking and or management system
  • Qualified lead generation
  • How to get more results from your existing strategies

Do you know where your current leads are coming from, or how many you get on a daily, weekly, or by-campaign basis?

If I asked you to tell me right now what your top lead generation strategies are, what would you say?

A big part of step-one is gaining a solid understanding of where your business stands right now in terms of lead generation. Otherwise, how are you going to know when your lead generation strategies are working? Or which strategies are working?

In a few minutes, I’m going to show you how to set up a lead tracking and lead management system that works with your business. But first, I’d like you to write down (on your pad of paper) what you think your top three lead generation strategies are right now.

Lead tracking

Every business needs a lead tracking and management system. Do you have one in place?

A lead tracking and management system is absolutely essential to your business for a number of reasons.

One, it is the only way to know which marketing strategies are working, and which ones aren’t. The information your system gathers will allow you to make educated decisions about marketing campaigns and investments.

Two, it organizes your sales and marketing efforts and manages contact information in a user-friendly way. It’s clear who you called, when, what you said, and when you said you’d follow up.

Three, it enables you to manage your sales staff by tracking their progress on several leads at once. You’ll have access to an at-a-glance picture of their sales figures and productivity.

Your lead tracking system needs to:

  • record the leads that arrive by phone, in-store visit, and website visit
  • track the source of each lead over specific time periods
  • record pertinent customer information
  • be simple enough to be used by all staff members

Your lead management system needs to:

  • track your leads through the sales plan or process
  • increase customer communications or contact
  • keep track of correspondences and follow-up requirements
  • make it easier for you and your staff to close more sales

Here is a list of information you will want to gather from your leads.

Depending on the needs of your business and the lead tracking and management system you choose (i.e., do you need a mailing address, or just email address?) some of these items may be optional fields.

  • Company Name
  • Name of Contact
  • Alternate Contact Person
  • Mailing Address
  • Phone Number
  • Fax Number
  • Cell Phone
  • Email Address
  • Website Address
  • Product of Interest
  • Source of Lead (i.e., How did you hear from us?)
  • Reason for Enquiry

If it is appropriate for your business, you also may wish to gather demographic information from your leads – but keep this voluntary. This information would be ideally used in your market research analysis.

Keep in mind that your lead tracking and management systems  need to be simple enough for everyone in your company to use.

Unless you are the only person in your company who manages incoming phone calls, greets customers and chases down leads, the systems you implement will need to be used consistently by everyone in your organization.

Once you have decided on a system, schedule enough time to train your staff thoroughly and be open to feedback. Since you’re not the sole user, you’ll need to consider their thoughts on the usability of the systems.

Pick a lead tracking and management system that suits your budget, and offers the features your business needs.

Each business will have different requirements when it comes to lead tracking and management. A retail store will have different needs than a realtor’s office, for example.

The retail store may only need to record leads based on lead generation strategies, and keep lead information for their direct mail or newsletter databases. On the other hand, the realtor will need to make contact with their leads on several occasions, and need a system that will record and remind them of those correspondences.

Software for lead management ranges from simple to highly sophisticated, and can be a great investment depending on the needs of your business. Some CRM (Customer Relationship Management) tools are available online as a web-based system you can subscribe to and have access to on the road.

I’ve listed the features and advantages to a number of different systems below – ranging from low-tech to high-tech, paper-based to web-savvy.

Index Cards
Variety of sizes: 3×5, 4X6 or 5X8Basic contact information on one sideNotes on the other sideEasy to organize and sort
This is a basic system used to manage leads by those who may be less comfortable with computers. This system will be effective at tracking low volumes of leads.
Rolodex
More contacts than index card systemEasily organized and compactBasic contact information on one sideNotes on the other side
Another basic system that will effectively manage leads without the use of a computer. While this system can store a higher number of cards, it is also only effective for tracking low volumes of leads.
Excel Spreadsheets
Electronic system that is highly customizable by date, name, source or other variablesEasily organized and analyzedSeveral worksheets in a single file allow leads to be tracked and contact managedAccessible for those with basic computer skills
This is a slightly more sophisticated system that will allow you to track higher volumes of leads, and effectively organize the information that you collect into charts that can be analyzed.

In Excel, you are able to work with a number of tracking sheets in a single file, and create hard copy tracking sheets for staff to use at point of sale and reception.

Excel also has the capability of importing data from Outlook and Maximizer.

Database Management Programs
High level of organizationUnlimited space for notes and record-keepingData-entry requiredExamples include: MS Outlook, MS Excel, Maximizer
A more sophisticated system that will interface with Excel and manage high volumes of leads and customer details.

Manages distribution lists for newsletters and direct mail campaigns.

Primarily manages contact information, and provides space for notes, follow-ups and reminders.

Tracking high volumes of leads without recording and inputting customer information is best done in Excel.

Customer Relationship Management (CRM) Software
Web-based, and accessible from anywhere with internet accessOrganizes leads and customers by name, company, date, or statusAbility to attach documents (like proposals and contracts) to leadsAbility to write notes and log correspondence by dateView contact history and statusInterfaces with e-mail marketing programsExample is SalesForce
A highly sophisticated system with advanced features.

Tracks a high volume of relationship-based leads, and provides a detailed, feature-heavy system for lead management.

Not ideal for retail businesses, or businesses that need to track a high volume of leads with minimal customer information attached.

Website Analytics
Monitors and analyzes website traffic and online advertisingTracks number of people who visit your site, where they came from (search engines, online advertisement, website link etc.), how long they stayed, the pages they visited, and which page they left the site from.Google Analytics is an easy-to-use example
An ideal way to track and analyze website traffic to complement your overall lead tracking system. This is not a complete system on its own.

Requires the insertion of a specific code into each of your webpages, or each of your online advertisements.

Monitors usage statistics, and generates reports, charts, graphs, etc.

lead generation

Bringing qualified leads into your business will save you and your sales team time, and result in higher revenues.

Qualified leads are simply the potential customers who are the most likely to buy your your product or service. They’re not just in your store taking at look at the latest features in refrigerators, they’re in the market to purchase a refrigerator. They’re not wandering in to see what a $500 handbag looks like, they are the kind of person who can actually spend $500 on a handbag.

Some of the people who will call you or visit your business will never buy from you no matter how good your sales scripts are or how much time you spend overcoming their objectives. There are a variety of reasons for this – and you’ll never eliminate all of these people – but you will need to focus on bringing in more of the people who are ready to buy.

The good news is you have spent so much time and energy cultivating a comprehensive knowledge of your target market, that you’re in a great position to increase the number of qualified leads you bring into your business.

How do You Get Qualified Leads?

The crux of qualified lead generation is making decisions based on the market research you completed on your target market. You basically need to know where to reach your market, and how to speak to them.

When you are designing, executing and making choices about your lead generation strategies, always consider these questions.

Who is my target market? Write down your target market description to keep you focused on the specifics of this group of people.
DISTRIBUTION IS EVERYTHING: How does my target market like to receive information? Do they read the newspaper? Pick up the family mail? Spend hours on Facebook? Subscribe to Reader’s Digest? Listen to newsradio on long commutes to work?
What motivates my target market to take action, and how can I tap into that motivation? How will you tap into your target market’s emotional response? What issues or needs will mean something to them, and drive them into your store to solve them.
Where can I place my marketing message so my target market will see it? Look at what you found out in your market research about your target market’s hobbies, activities and interests. How can you place your message or your product or service in their path?
What can I offer my target market to entice them to purchase from me? Can you offer your target market something special, rare, or time specific that will appeal only to them?

I’m going to show you how some little changes will generate big results for your company in short order.

Once you’re set up with a testing and measuring system (your lead tracking and management systems) to evaluate the success of your lead generation strategies, you need to start by looking for opportunities to juice up the strategies you’re currently working with.
Use your new marketing message. Make sure that you have put your new marketing message on all of your marketing materials, where new and existing customers can see it. Revise your standard advertisements to feature the strengthened copy.
Strengthen your offer. Create an offer that’s too good to refuse – not for your entire target market, but for your ideal customer. How can you cater to their unique needs and wants? What will be irresistible for them?
Refocus your direct mail campaign. If you’re sending your direct mail to entire postal code areas, stop and refocus. If your distribution area is that broad, chances are the copy on your postcard or letter is too broad as well. Brainstorm ways to narrow your distribution and only hit your target audience. Purchase consumer lists based on demographics, not just location, or limit distribution to specific housing types. Of course, make sure you rework the direct mail piece to feature your marketing message.
Let your target market’s behaviors dictate your distribution plans. As I discussed above, the more you can tailor your strategy to the needs and habits of your target market, the strong your results will be. Look for opportunities in your existing direct mail, advertising, flyer drop and other strategies to get specific. Narrow the demographics of your list, or place an ad in a niche publication. Brainstorm new ways to target your market’s emotional reactions.
Tap into low-cost advertising. Advertising in places like the YellowPages, classifieds sections, e-mail newsletters and Google Adwords can be a great place to test your marketing message for minimal investment. In an upcoming post you’ll learn how to place ads in the YellowPages and other listings that stand out from the competition.
Look for some referral business. Referral business is desirable because it usually brings qualified leads into your business. Someone has referred them to you based on a current need or desire.
> Provide your customers with an incentive to bring business to you. Reward successful referrals with discounts or gifts.
> Create a referral chain by giving each new customer three free coupons for products or services that they can give to their friends. When their friends come into your business, do the same.
> Create complementary alliances with non-competitor businesses with the same target market. Cross-promotion or cross-referral strategies will benefit both businesses.
Look for some referral business. Referral business is desirable because it usually brings qualified leads into your business. Someone has referred them to you based on a current need or desire.
> Provide your customers with an incentive to bring business to you. Reward successful referrals with discounts or gifts.
> Create a referral chain by giving each new customer three free coupons for products or services that they can give to their friends. When their friends come into your business, do the same.
> Create complementary alliances with non-competitor businesses with the same target market. Cross-promotion or cross-referral strategies will benefit both businesses.
Website sign-up Add a feature on your website that encourages visitors to sign-up for newsletters or other communications. You can also set up your website so that potential customers need to fill out a simple form before they have access to “free” information.
How to Create Marketing Materials That Work post The next post will walk you through some tips and helpful suggestions for improving your marketing materials. Revise your existing materials based on these suggestions, and watch your leads multiply.

Stop using strategies that don’t work.

Now that you have a comprehensive lead tracking system in place, you’ll be able to track the leads that each strategy is responsible for generating.

When you complete your first few campaigns with the lead tracking system and analyze the numbers, compare the results to the initial predictions you made. Were you correct in your assumptions, or were you surprised by how things shook out.

The purpose of testing and measuring using a lead tracking system is to figure out which strategies work, and which don’t, as well as which strategies work best, and which generate mediocre results. This not only will save you money but is incredibly useful information to have when developing marketing budgets and, of course, trying to drive sales.

READ THIS: A quick cautionary note on conversions.

While the focus of this post and recent postes has been lead generation, remember the first part of the formula: #leads x %conversion rate = #customers. You’ll be working on conversion rates in just a few postes from now, but my point is don’t lose sight of the relationship between leads and conversions in the overall formula.

Remember that when more leads start flowing through your door, you’ll need to have the resources and systems in place to give a high level of customer service and to convert them into loyal customers. You’ve put effort into generating these qualified leads, but if you don’t have the resources in place to give them the attention required, you’ll lose them.

Once established, your lead tracking and lead management system should require minimal time investment…if you keep it up to date.

One last reminder before I sign-off – keep your systems up to date. The biggest pain (and drain on time) is having to go back and enter heaps of data into your database or management system because someone has let it pile up.

It’s also a huge missed opportunity! If you fall behind on your lead tracking system, because you won’t be able to effectively evaluate your campaign or strategy. Or, you may have missed a lead because you didn’t follow-up soon enough.

Be diligent, and set a strong example for your staff members.

Good luck!

 

The 5 Things You Should Know To Craft Powerful Offers in Your Business

The 5 Things You Should Know To Craft Powerful Offers in Your Business

Blog-a-Lesson Checkpoint:

  • You have identified which marketing materials you need, and which you can live without.
  • You have completed an audit of your existing marketing materials and identified opportunities for improvement based on the criteria in Blog-a-Lesson #10.

Focus on using powerful offers to generate leads, not to close sales.

Powerful offers that drive your audience to take action can be used in your business to do a myriad of things. They’re great for moving old or overstocked product, overcoming buyer objections, eliminating purchase risk, or even just building your customer database.

Well-crafted offers are also fantastic lead generators which is what we’re going to focus on in this Blog-a-Lesson. In this case, the offer is designed to get potential customers to identify themselves, not to close sales. Once those potential customers have identified themselves – they’ve taken action to redeem the offer – they enter the formal sales process and you can convert them into a loyal customer.

Offers designed to be lead generators drive more qualified prospects to your business. They weed out the buyers who would take advantage of your offer, but who are not otherwise a part of your target market. offer, but who are not otherwise a part of your target market.

I’m going to show you how to speak to your target market’s “hot buttons” and emotional motivators, instead of simply crafting an offer based on financial savings or bonuses. Let’s get started!

In marketing I’ve seen only one strategy that can’t miss and that is to market to your best customers first, your best prospects second and the rest of the world last. –John Romero

In this Blog-a-Lesson we will cover:

  • The elements that make an offer ‘powerful’
  • A step-by-step process for creating a powerful offer
  • Types of powerful offers
  • Examples of powerful offers
  • Testing and measuring your powerful offers

A powerful offer is irresistible to your potential customers’ emotional motivators.

In simple terms, a powerful offer gets people to respond, or take action. It will provide enough motivation for the reader to pick up the phone, visit your website, or walk into your store.

Often, powerful offers are called irresistible offers because they seem too good to pass up. They make your target audience think, “Wow! This is the chance I’ve been waiting for!” or, “I’d be nuts not to take advantage of this opportunity!”

Using emotional motivators in your offer (and in your headlines and copywriting, which we’ll review in upcoming Blog-a-Lesson) will drive qualified prospects to your business, and will make the job of converting customers into repeat business easier and more cost effective.

A powerful offer will feature an element of urgency or scarcity as a key motivator for action.

If I offered “2 for 1 Mother Daughter haircuts” every day of the year, chances are I wouldn’t have a stampede of prospects at my door. I would likely draw a few new clients a week, but the majority of those who saw the offer – even if they were interested – would probably put it off for later.

When you create an offer for lead generation, you want your prospect to take action as soon as possible. Now, let’s face it, we’re all procrastinators at heart, so you have to give your audience a reason to take action without delay.

So, instead of just “2 for 1 Mother Daughter haircuts,” I could offer, “2 for 1 Mother Daughter haircuts, Mother’s Day weekend – 20 spots available, book your appointment today!” This offer has an element of urgency – the offer is only valid for a two-day period – and scarcity – there are a limited number of appointments during those two days.

Here are some other ways I could use scarcity or urgency to ‘sweeten’ the offer:

how-to-craft-a-great-sales-offers

1. Establish who you are trying to target, and what you want them to do. Let’s walk through an easy step-by-step process for creating powerful offers that will generate qualified leads for your business.

Like all of your lead generation efforts, you need to establish who your target market or audience is before you can attempt to reach them. In most cases, this will be the target market you originally identified. In my salon example, the target market is middle-class women aged 18 to 65 with an interest in the latest trends in fashion and beauty.

You may also wish to segment that group of people into a more specific category. I could limit my target audience to those women in my target market with daughters.

Secondly, you must be clear about what you want your readers to do, and ask them to do it in your offer. Since you’re creating an offer to generate leads, in this case you want readers to identify themselves in some way, and make contact with you. In my example above, I asked customers to call and reserve their appointment today. You may ask your readers to come to the store for a free trial, or place an online order.

2. Identify the emotional motivators or “hot buttons” that will get your target to take action.

Using the categories below, decide why your target market needs or wants what you have to offer.

How do they feel in general about your product or service?

What problem does your offer provide the solution to?

  • Safety and financial security for self and family
  • Convenience and time management
  • Freedom from worry
  • Self-improvement
  • Acceptance and recognition from others
  • Basic needs, including food, shelter, love, personal maintenance, etc.

In my example, I’m targeting the emotions associated with the bond between mothers and daughters, especially on Mother’s Day, and their common interest in beauty services. The offer alludes to an opportunity to spend time with each other, an activity for Mother’s Day, and a way to save money while doing so.

3. Once you have identified the emotions you will try to target, determine which type of offer will work best.

Free Offer

Ask your potential customer to act immediately for a free reward. This is a great lead generator if you can offer a solution to a common problem for free. Examples would be “Contact me now to receive your free 10-page guide to financial freedom,” or “Act now and get your first month of home security for free – a $99 value!” Try to include the dollar value of what you are providing for free to increase the perceived value.

Guarantee Offer

Guarantee the performance of your product or results of your service, and you’ll take away the fear many customers feel when making a purchase. This is a great way to overcome barriers when a customer is making a large or important purchase, or when safety and security are involved.

  • Money-back guarantee: full refund for unsatisfied customers.
  • Double-your-money-back guarantee: double refund for unsatisfied customers.
  • Long-term guarantee: one year, multi-year or lifetime guarantee.

Free Trial or Demonstration Offer

Another great way to reverse purchase risk is to offer a free trial (7, 14, or 30 days) or to provide a free demonstration. This works with all kinds of products or services, and allows the customer to convince himself that he needs what you have to offer. Those customers who are concerned about making the right purchase decision will be put at ease by this offer.

Package or Value-Added Offer

This offer appeals to customers looking for convenience because their needs are met in one place or one purchase, like start-up kits and special packages. Packaging products also increases the perception of value, often without adding costs. For example, offering a free printer with computer purchase.

Premium Offer

Always offer premiums over discounts, as they will better serve your bottom line. Reward purchases with bonus products or services, and you’ll give new customers an incentive for choosing your business over the competition.

3. Draft several hard-to-refuse offers based on these motivators.

Brainstorm as many different types of offers as you can, using emotional keywords or hot buttons. Depending on the type of business you have, and the products or services you offer, you may wish to focus on a single product or service, or open up the offer to all the items you have in store.

Are there any freebies you can throw in? Any overstock that can be handed out as a free gift, packaged with a complimentary product? What about bonus services that you can add on to products for a limited time (with limited costs)? Will a simple guarantee make a big difference?

Remember that when you are describing your offer, be as specific as possible and avoid lengthy description of product details and benefits. Your goal is to sell the offer and motivate readers to take the next step, not to sell your product.

4. Evaluate the financial viability of each of your brainstormed offers.

Even though you’re using these offers as lead generation tools, you need to make sure that each transaction will turn an acceptable profit – or at least allow you to break even. The last thing you want to have happen is a store full of leads redeeming an outrageous offer that will leave you broke.

So, for each of your brainstormed offers, calculate your break-even point. If I were offering 2 for 1 Mother Daughter haircuts, my calculation would look something like this:

A. Costs: Determine the costs involved in your offer (hard costs – product or service, and soft costs – advertising or marketing).

Service costs:
Adult Haircut: $20
Junior Haircut: $10

Marketing costs:
Advertising: $200
Flyer Drop: $100

B. Profit: Assess how much profit you’ll generate per sale (price minus hard costs).

Adult Haircut: $40 (price) – $20 (cost) = $20 profit
Junior Haircut: $0 (offered free) – $10 (cost) = $10 expense

Profit: $20 – $10 = $10 profit per transaction

C. Break Even Point: Calculate how many transactions you’ll need to break even (how much profit will you need to make to cover soft costs).

Advertising (total): $300
Profit: $10
Transactions: $300 / $10 = 30 transactions required to break even.

From here you can assess whether or not you can realistically break even, and if your offer is financially viable. In this example, 30 transactions is a reachable target for my salon over the course of a weekend. I may also consider extending the offer over the course of a week, maintaining an element of urgency, but allowing more time to recover my costs.

Keep in mind that their initial purchase in response to your offer may only allow you to break even, but if you are able to convert them into repeat customers, the profit of their subsequent purchases may make up the difference.

5. Select two of your financially viable offers, then test them to measure which works best.

I like to test two offers at a time when I first start to use this lead generation strategy. This will tell me what emotional motivators really work with my target audience, and then I can continue to build on that knowledge.

Use your lead tracking system to measure which offers generate the highest number of leads. If coupons are a part of your offer, put a tracking code on each of them, or make sure that your staff are asking every inquiry which offer they are responding to.

Remember, testing and measuring is a vital component of your lead generation efforts, and it elicits some really valuable information. Once you know what works with your audience, you can use that information on emotional motivators to influence decisions you make when writing headlines and other copy.

Get creative and put together new and exciting offers for your potential clients on a regular basis.

Remember – you’ll need to keep improving and revising your offers to ensure you continue to draw leads from them. Otherwise, your audience will get used to seeing the same offer, assume it is always available, and it may become stale.

Use opportunities like seasons, events, anniversaries and other celebrations to change and renew offers. When you bring in a new product line, feature a new service, or try to go after a new segment of your target market, check-in to see if you can create an offer around the news and bring in some new leads.

In the next Blog-a-Lesson, we’re going to spend some time cultivating your headline writing skills. You’ll see that we use headlines in all types of marketing and sales materials, and they’re a powerful or even essential component of your lead generation tools.

To Your Success,

wEquipu-small-business

We help you develop breakthrough marketing strategies and put groundbreaking small business consulting ideas into action with our Silver Bullet System ultimately improving small businesses decisions and business results through proven methodologies. 

As John Maxwell Certified Coaches, we have the management and team coaching expertise to tackle team challenges head on.  We help small businesses overcome fierce competition, modest budgets and solidifying their sales and marketing engine by improving lead generation, conversion rates, transactions, higher prices and profits generation strategies. – wEquipu Team.