A few readers chimed in and asked me to detail the mechanics of my blog set up so today I’ll go over the specific set-up, plugins and techniques I use in my blogging routine.
I’ve used a blog in my marketing for ten years now, written 2500 blog posts and consider my blog my most valuable business asset and yet, I’ve never considered myself a blogger – it’s just always seemed like the easiest way to spread my message and grow my community and that’s how I’ve positioned it over the years as I’ve pushed every business owner I’ve spoken with to employ this tool.
I don’t plan what I am going to write too far in advance. I have a pretty rough idea of what an upcoming week is going to entail, but I leave room to stumble on an emerging idea, change in some social network or the occasional rant as I consume content.
I have a set of topics, a lot like chapters in a book, that I return to time and again as them make up the core “point of view” that I build both my ongoing themes and SEO around.
I digest over 100 blog feeds, dozens of email newsletters and a handful of print publications in an effort to draw inspiration and information to use in my blogging.
I started this blog in 2003 using an oddly named software called pMachine. pMachine later morphed into a tool that’s still available called Expression Engine.
As you can see in the image above I referred to it as a weblog – this was actually what the tool was called in the earliest days.
It’s reference to the fact that the software was created as a tool for developers to log what they done while working on a project and easily share that over the web with other developers – thus a weblog. It was later shortened to blog, which really has no meaning, but sounded less techie I guess.
In 2005 I met that folks at Automatic at SXSW and they offered to migrate me to a somewhat newish platform called WordPress and that’s where I’ve remained and what I recommend. In 2008 I got the wild idea to run my entire site, not just my blog, using WordPress and with each passing upgrade it seems to me that this is how every web site should be set up.
I’m on my 5th theme currently. I’ve used a mixture of custom themes and my current theme is a custom configuration of iBuilder from iThemes.
Themes have evolved as much as any aspect of the WordPress ecosystem and most fully support my contention that WordPress should be used to run your entire site. The most advanced premium themes today are built on a framework that allows you or a designer to easily create fully custom looks and set-ups using what are referred to as child themes.
Today’s themes are lightweight and flexible and are starting to really take into account the growing need for responsiveness – another way of saying they look good on big and little screens alike.
Early next month I’ll push a site redesign live that is built on what is quickly becoming one of the most popular frameworks – Genesis from Studio Press.
Plugins are a great way to extend the functionality of WordPress, but they’re also one of the biggest sources of trouble. I used to add any cool plugin that I came across that looked valuable, but now I’m pretty picky and stick with a core set choosing simplicity and page load speed over features.
My current set up includes:
This is an element of blogging that gets downplayed in the hyper commoditized world of web hosting, but in my experience it’s a biggie. I jumped around a few times as my site grew and increased traffic (a good thing) slowed my page loads (a really bad thing)
Recently I’ve switched to Synthesis, a new class of managed hosting designed specifically to host WordPress sites. The speed of my site increased dramatically and will increase again once I’m using the Synthesis framework.
It’s really the only hosting I recommend these days as the service is very good, security is ridiculously strong and my entire site, including database is backed up automatically every day.
I wrote a post recently on the precise way I push out my new content each day and nothing has really changed from that post so I’ll link to it here.
This is a topic that many people underestimate. If you want to build a readership, attract links and maybe even draw in a customer, you’ve got to commit to a systematic approach to sharing as well as writing.
(Small Business Marketing Expert)
Truly understanding the answer to this question may define the difference between a feeling of success or failure in business – regardless of how well a business seems to do outwardly.
I’ve written an entire book on this notion called The Commitment Engine – Making Work Worth It. (Oct 2012) The book is a study in how entrepreneurs find and commit to work worth doing and then how they build an organization with a culture based on work worth doing and finally how they create a community that believes in and wants to be a part of the work worth doing.
The book features some pretty amazing stories from some pretty amazing entrepreneurs, but today I want to get your story. For the next few weeks I am collecting as many answers as possible to this seemingly simple question:
It’s such an interesting and at times arresting question. As I’ve begun to pose it to more and more individuals I’ve come to appreciate the distinction between those that know it immediately, without hesitation, and those that ask to get back to me or what my deadline is.
Here’s what I’ve learned. If you don’t know the answer to this question off the top of your head, you’ve got some work to do. I don’t say that as a form of judgment, it’s just that I’ve become convinced that it’s nearly impossible to be fully alive in this world without a commitment to some purpose that makes the work you do worth it.
And the funny thing about this idea is that it doesn’t matter what that is, as long as there’s a strong commitment. I’ve interviewed people that gain a great deal of success serving a higher purpose that involves changing lives for the better and I’ve also spoken with those that understand their work and the money it brings simply serves a means to a different end that fulfills them.
There’s no right answer and that may be part of the challenge because we immediately think a term like “higher purpose” should point us in a spiritual direction, but it doesn’t need to. The only thing that matters is that we understand and connect to why we do what we do – end of story.
Again, please take a minute and share your work story in the form of answer to this question – What make the work you do work it? please add it to this form
I want to share two very different stories I’ve collected because I think they help illustrate just how important, yet how unique, this idea is to each individual. (I plan to share lots of these stories, including yours, over the next few week.)
What Makes the Work You Do Worth It?
I get paid. That’s what makes the work I do worth it. Because I already know how I like to spend my time. I don’t need to get paid to do stuff I love. I’d do it anyway. But I need to feed my family. So I adjust the stuff I love to do so that I can get paid for it.
For example, I would probably lock myself in a room and write my memoir, but I’m scared that I wouldn’t earn enough money while I was doing it. So i write almost a memoir via my blog, and I get paid really well for it.
And I love speaking, and I’d speak to large groups for free because it’s so fun. But I get paid $10K a speech if I talk about Generation Y, so I do that, even though, to be honest, I’m totally sick of talking about Generation Y and they are the most conservative, non-risktaking generation to come along since World War I and why can’t we stop doing speeches about them already?
So I think it’s totally disingenuous for anyone to answer this question with anything but “I get paid”. Because the difference between what we do for work and what we do because we love it is that we get paid. No one gets to do 100% of what they love for work. That’s not how the world works.
Those of us who are happiest in our work are getting paid to do something we really enjoy.
What Makes the Work You Do Worth It?
A few key elements make the work I do worth it.
First is a deep sense of alignment. I wake up every morning excited to create experiences and solutions that are organic extensions of who I am, what I care about and what people want, need and value. I feel like the work I do matters. To me and to the people I serve. And it lights me up along the way.
Second is the pursuit of craft and mastery. As a an author, entrepreneur, artist and web-producer, I spend much of my days pursuing craft and mastery. I geek out over language, twists of phrases, metaphors and storytelling that rises to the level of transcendence engine. I love the challenge of creating immersive experiences for clients, readers and customers that leave them in some way changed. Striving to solve complex problems and teaching people how to do the same makes me giddy.
Whether I ever achieve that elusive state of mastery isn’t so much the point, but the quest, the journey, the voracious seeking after the craft is something that pulls me to do more of what I do.
Third, it’s about the people. I’ve launched, built and sold a few companies and am current building a number of global digital tribes and ventures. People often ask what the best part of entrepreneurship is. Is it the money? The freedom? The glory? It’s not any of those, most of which take an insane amount of work and years to come if they ever do.
The real magic lies the opportunity to hand pick the people you surround yourself with and cultivate a culture of joy, respect, service, delight, connection and impact. You get to build a hive of people you can’t get enough of, and that makes a huge difference in the way you experience each day.
Last thing, family is the heartbeat of everything. I’ve worked to build my career in a way allows me to be deeply present in the lives of my wife and daughter and also take care of myself (still a work in progress, lol). Because, it’s not enough to be physically there, but checked out or so sick and burnt that I’m not really there. I want to be physically, emotionally and spiritually present, which means creating time for the self-care needed to build this foundation.
This list is by no means all-inclusive, but it contains the big rocks for me, the things that make the work I do worth it.
The Commitment Engine is due in stores in October and I’ll certainly offer my share of promotional opportunities over the next 6-8 weeks, but today I simply want to ask you to share your story. Click here to share your story.
(Small Business Marketing Expert)
Here’s my take though. Every department in an organization has objectives to meet. Maybe in the case of IT department it’s increased productivity, lower costs, greater automation, security or better inventory management.
So, let’s say that the CEO charges the IT Department with finding and installing a new CRM system for sales and marketing to use. All of the sudden the IT Department’s objectives intersect squarely with two other departments – two other departments that have been down this road before and may have no interest in playing.
This is where effective marketing comes into play. In most every organization the scenario above is doomed to fail, because there’s no alignment. IT tells people, here’s what we are doing and here’s what you are going to do. It’s like running a tiny ad for a very expensive and complicated product and expecting people to line up to buy it. There’s no alignment of objectives.
Marketing creates alignment.
What if the IT Department created a very marketing like process that was based on building the kind of trust required to get total buy in, loyalty and even evangelism for their objectives?
What if the internal IT Department built an internal marketing campaign based on the 7 stages of what I call The Marketing Hourglass?
What if the marketing plan for the internal project addressed the logical stages of know, like, trust, try, but, repeat and refer before any roll out meetings ever occurred?
So, going back to our fictional new CRM installation, the IT Department’s road map might look more like this.
Know – Schedule interviews with users of the software from other companies to understand highs and lows of the process. Schedule interviews with potential internal users to understand what currently works and doesn’t work.
Like – Put together peer 2 peer panel with sales and marketing folks from companies currently using the software and internal sales and marketing folks to discuss CRM and technology challenges as a whole.
Trust – Identify internal champions that are vocal about the needs for the new CRM tool and include them in vendor discussions and planning path.
Try – Create beta user groups with exclusive access to the planning process and input in the building. Publicize this beta group’s activity and timeline.
Buy – Let beta group train and evangelize on the functionality. Create orientation materials featuring tips and traps from the beta group.
Repeat – Aggressively measure and report improvements in every key performance indicator and release new and more advanced feature to the beta and champion group. Fix what’s not working.
Refer – Gather testimonials from all users and allow beta and champion groups to promote others within the organization into the champion group. Hold champion user group events.
Certainly this takes far greater coordination, but it’s just a plan.
You see, meeting objectives in IT, Finance, Management, Marketing HR, every department, is just good marketing when it comes right down to it.
(Small Business Marketing Expert)
No, the act of blogging itself does not matter any more, but the act of consistently creating education based content that is easy for search engines to find and index, easy to share, attracts links, creates a searchable and archivable body of work on a subject and will never be seen as inorganic by Google has never, ever been more important.
It just so happens that what I’ve described is easily accomplished through the use of blogging software that runs your entire site. Every aspect of this site is built on WordPress – landing pages, contact pages, about us pages and this page. It puzzles me why people still fight this notion or why they would ever consider entrusting their content assets to Facebook or some other social network flavor of the month.
Using blogging software is not a trend or tool or even a behavior, it’s the single most important marketing element of your Total Online Presence and attempting to build a business today without using blogging software as your foundation is simply indefensible.
No matter what the excuse – we don’t have the time, we don’t know what to write, we tried it once, our customers don’t read blogs, our dog ate it – the cost of not actively creating and housing valuable content online is too high and you are absolutely kidding yourself if you think engaging prospects on Google+ with the occasional profound bit of banter is enough.
Blogging is stablest form of SEO
Google likes to keep the SEO community on its toes and every so often adjusts how it ranks sites often penalizing some practice it sees as an unnatural attempt to gain an advantage.
To my knowledge, high quality, keyword rich, education based, properly formatted, highly linked to and consistently updated original content has never been penalized.
Blogging creates a hub for social
Creating awareness for blog content that addresses challenges and provides useful information is the best way to build relationships through social media and one of the best ways to then attract links and traffic.
Quite often social networks are the greatest source of daily traffic to my blog.
Blogging builds your email list
A key action in your Total Online Presence is the capture of leads. One of the greatest forms of currency in this game is valuable content. People willingly exchange their email address in order to receive email they want to open. This can be in the form a subscription to your blog posts or for an eBook compilation of posts related to a specific topic.
Blogging drives point of view
One of the greatest differentiators in business is a consistent and valuable point of view that attracts followers over the long haul. When you approach your blogging content creation as a publisher might with a total body of themed work in mind, you stand a much greater chance of building the credibility and expert status that comes from holding a firm point of view.
By focusing on writing about key concepts through a singular voice you can build an attractive brand message through blogging.
Blogging creates other options
Forcing yourself to create content every day or every other day enables you to think about all the ways you might use your total body of work. Three blog posts can become the makings of a feature article. Ten blog posts on a related topic might make a great eBook. A comprehensive point of view expressed in a blog post might make a tremendous presentation or video. The need to create a workshop might produce five solid blog posts. Answering the most consistently asked questions your firm receives by way of blog posts creates useful content and automatically builds an FAQ section.
So, if you’re tired of hearing about blogging, think it’s a dying fad or that it’s not for you, that’s totally fine. Just make sure you are consistently producing and sharing high quality content that is searchable, subscribable and indexable and house it all on your company’s domain.
And come back tomorrow when I tell you how I do all of that using blog software.
(Small Business Marketing Expert)
Over the years I’ve used image providers such as such a paid options likeiStockphoto, shutterstock and the free stock.xchng. A few years ago I settled into finding images on Flickr that were designated as Creative Commons. These images are free to use in blog posts but should carry attribution and a link to the original.
Recently I switched to using a free service called Photo Pin. Photo Pin actually uses the Flickr API to help you find Creative Commons images just like using Flickr directly, but I find that my searches on Photo Pin turn up images faster and the interface is so much better.
When you select an image you are presented with up to nine size options, just like on Flickr, but the killer feature for me is that you also get a box with the HTML you need to use for attribution. Since WordPress now allows you to put HTML in the caption box of an image, you simply copy the code from Photo Pin and paste it into the caption and you have perfectly formatted attribution with links embedded.
(Small Business Marketing Expert)
photo credit: khalid almasoud via photo pin cc
As you design a new campaign, brainstorm these questions with your staff and use the answers you come up with to create a series of launch action items.
1) What do we want our customer to do 30 days after the purchase?
This is such a great place to start because it lets you begin with the end in mind. So often all we think about is how to get the sale. This question forces you to think about how you get the result, the next sale or the referral and puts the emphasis squarely on creating a total customer experience.
2) What message will create the most interest?
For the most part no one really wants to buy what you sell, but they do want to achieve a result, save money, vanquish a demon, make money and feel more in control. How will you tell the story that helps them understand that’s what you’re selling? Get your messaging right, focus it on a narrowly defined ideal customer and start the process of education.
3) How many formats and delivery vehicles can we create for the message?
Would your message benefit from a series of supporting video messages, an eBook, blog posts, an online seminar? These days prospects have grown to expect a full suite of educational information to accompany a sales message. How will you let your prospect sample the results or the process they are considering?
4) What are the ways our message can intersect with our prospects?
Now it’s time to put your message in front of the prospect. How will you employ advertising, public relations, referral generation, email, partners and social networks to create the greatest amount of awareness, repetition and consistency of message aimed at your ideal target customer?
5) What is the ultimate pathway we want our prospect to travel?
Go through the precise “ideal” way you want a prospect to become aware of your campaign and then design how you intend them to move from know, like and trust to try and buy. What small steps do you intend them to take to move closer to the decision to buy.
6) What is our call to action mechanism at each point along the way?
How are you going to motivate your prospects to take each progressive step? What words, buttons, links and value exchanges will you employ to keep your prospect engaged?
7) What is the next thing we intend to sell?
Some might find this last step a bit crass at this point, but you don’t have to think about it that way. If your products and services deliver a positive result, you should always be thinking about new ways to do that. Your campaigns should always have an integrated product or service suite element that automatically upsells, introduces additional options and even downsells when a prospect decides they aren’t ready to make a decision on your current campaign.
For example, as you offer a new consulting service, you could either offer some additional “done for you” add ons for those that decide to buy or a $79 DIY program for those that pass on your initial offer.
I think the point here is that you adopt a routine and process that makes you stop and consider this holistic approach to campaign design. Often, by simply stopping for moment to consider these powerful questions you’ll find ways to make any offer much stronger and much more customer focused.
(Small Business Marketing Expert)
With the eventual adoption of HTML5 and its heavy support for AJAX, web pages are quickly becoming web applications in a foreshadowing of the next standard for web sites. Take note of these new tools as they will usher in the expectation that all sites begin to function instead of merely house information.
Below are 5 new breed collaboration tools making heavy use of HMTL5.
Groupzap – This one wins the coolness award in my book, but offers a really powerful set of tools for instant collaboration and brainstorming meetings and white boards on the fly. Marry it with Skype and you have a no cost tool that is hard to beat. You can drag files into the space, document with notes and save the entire session as a PDF. Nobody has to register you just send out a link via IM or email.
Microsoft Office Web Apps – (okay, this one probably doesn’t use HTML5 as IE doesn’t add support for it until IE9, but it still fits the new breed label) – Using the Office Web Apps and SkyDrive you can open a document with a group of people and co-author and edit in real time with the entire group participating, making changes and viewing the changes live.
Google + Hangouts – One of the most talked about features of the much talked about Google + is Hangouts – a video chat function that allows you to invite or simply host an on the fly group video meeting. (There is now a Facebook plug in that mirrors this and you can add a Group Meeting plug in to your own WordPress blog)
TalkWheel – TalkWheel is an instant messaging platform that works more like a roundtable discussion than the linier stack of the typical IM. It actually create a visual representation of the conversations and filters and relates topics. Looks like a very cool way to keep track of conversations from around the web and I can see lots of focus group and brainstorming uses with its visual presentation.
Vokle – I’m probably stretching how some might view collaboration with this one, but I just love what you can do with Vokle. Vokle is actually a live streaming video platform, but it makes it very easy to have two people present or invite virtual guests to create a talk show kind of feel. You can also share a computer screen as the guest to flip back and forth from live presenter to slides or images. The entire stream can be recorded for future playback as well.
(Small Business Marketing Solution)
The opportunity to create and record engaging video content just got a whole lot easier with this tool.
Whether you want to do a one on one interview or host an industry panel discussion featuring ten experts, Google+Hangouts On Air gives you a live streaming platform and automatic HD video capture.
I love the immediacy of a live broadcast, but you also have the option to edit the final version in YouTube to take out slower moments or edit out questions or to simply give it punch with an intro or images.
If you have someone monitoring the live YouTube stream you can even take text questions from the live audience. There is a screen sharing option so you can also present slides or share anything from a Google doc or spreadsheet.
I conducted a recent panel discussion with six participants. We had over 300 live viewers and the archive has been viewed several thousand times. The format, platform and ease of use has me hooked.
I could see some great uses for this:
One on one interviews vcast style for a video blog
Peer to peer industry discussions
Pre conference or event showcases
Opinion or current event discussions
Survey data analysis and discussion
Live customer case study or success profile
Meet the author book club groups
The tool is very easy to use, but I thought I would share a couple tips
When you create a Hangout you will have the option (in Advanced drop down box) of making it just a Hangout or adding the On Air feature. (You will be asked to confirm ownership of the YouTube channel you are linking to so you must be using a YouTube channel that is associated with the same email as your Google+ account)
Privacy settings in Google+ make it so that you may not be able to add or invite someone to a Hangout unless they have you in a circle, so make sure all invitees take this step and be careful not to add Public or anyone will be able to join (Also make sure you click the option that restricts your guests from adding anyone unless you want to give them this option.)
Remind your guests to log in to Google+ at show time and join the Hangout that will be listed on their page.
Remind them further to have their video camera on, microphone chosen and earphones for listening. (They cannot play the Hangout through speakers or it will echo back through their mic)
It’s a great idea to test everything ahead of time if you can so you make sure all plugins and such are up to date.
Good, natural lighting is a real plus when it comes to video
It is a good practice to share the URL for the YouTube channel so your guests can invite viewers, but remind them not to have the YouTube broadcast live in a browser tab as it is delayed a few seconds and can cause some real confusion
When you launch the Hangout the On Air function is not live so you have some time to make sure everyone is on and has working tech. When you want to go live you push the On Air button and wait for the countdown plus add about 3 seconds of you smiling into the camera before you start to make sure you record everything
When On Air Hangouts has the host featured in the video box with all the guests in small panes below the main box. It moves whoever is speaking to the main view so any noise can be interpreted by the tool as speaking – tell you guests to make sure they are in a private, noise free environment and that they are on camera at all times, so even the pecking of keys while they return email will move them to the main screen.
Once you’ve finished with your event you turn the On Air feature off and have the ability to debrief with guests if you like.
Go to your YouTube channel and make immediate modifications if you like such as choosing a thumbnail and adding rich description. You can also use the increasingly full set of editing tools to add more flair.
You are suppose to be able to schedule Hangouts as Events in the future and have them show on your YouTube channel as coming soon, but I tried to use this feature and it did not work.
So, there you have it, yet another great way to create content. Use a tool like Speaker Text to create a transcript of your Hangout and you have content in several forms.
So, how have you used or viewed a Google+Hangout On Air?
(Small Business Marketing Expert)
I’ve been doing this a long time and with every emerging evolution there seems to be an equally reactive rush to embrace the accompanying tactics and it’s what leads people to do things that don’t make sense.
Ten years ago everyone was hiring web designers to create web sites that had nothing to do with the rest of the organization’s marketing or branding – but they had to have a web site.
Then social media came along and everyone rushed to figure out Twitter and how to run a contest on Facebook.
The mobile rush is currently starting to heat up and, once again, I think most people are asking the wrong thing.
Instead of how do wet get into mobile, where can we get our own cool app or how much should we spend on mobile ads, the question is and should be this.
What behaviors are our current customers exhibiting right now when it comes to mobile and how can we tap those behaviors using some combination of existing and emerging tools.
I truly believe that’s the formula for considering any new tactic or tool. When you factor what you’re doing now that works and ask how you can use the tools to do more of that, you’ll rarely get caught up in the rush towards new for new sake.
Below are three mobile behaviors you can no longer ignore as they’ve become universal and cross industries and demographics in undeniable ways.
1) Content is getting consumed on mobile devices on the go.
I have a Nexus7, iPhone, iPad, Kindle Fire. I use apps like Reeder and FlipBoardon most of those devices to consume content. And, while I’m not your average online folk, my wife does the same and so do my kids.
Our content must be made to be consumed by people using really small screens riding in a car, at the library and at the conference. Right now, there are very few business that can pull off a generally useful app, but every business should invest in making all of their content pitch perfect for the various ways it’s being consumed.
This means using plugins such as WPTouch Pro, choosing themes and designers that use Responsive Web Design and exploring mobile landing pages and content pages designed to provide very specific content to mobile surfers with tools such as Tekora or GoMobi
2) Mobile is a key element in the buying process
And, here’s the most important aspect of that behavior – mobile shoppers are proving more valuable then traditional shoppers, including demonstrating less price sensitivity according the July Mobile Retail Insights report from Mobile Ad Network Greystripe.
Okay this statement relies on murky research, but think about it – mobile shoppers, people that do research on the fly looking for somewhere to shop, eat, drink, visit, or even hire a service, are more likely to jump on the things they find first, conveniently and seamlessly.
While people are using their mobile devices during the buying or shopping process many are choosing to make actual purchases either offline (see next behavior) or using a laptop, but tablets are going to change this dramatically.
The key is to understand that mobile is a link in the buying chain and proper integration is where conversion comes from.
3) People expect mobile engagement
Once you understand this behavior you’ll stop bad mouthing text message marketing. That’s not to say that there aren’t people doing it poorly or using it to spam, but it is to say there are terribly powerful and valid reasons to use SMS and now is the time to analyze how you can use service such as EXTextingor Trumpia for customer service, flash sales and specials and appointment opening.
I’ve also seen people use SMS short codes to allow people to subscribe to their email newsletter and more and more businesses are offering receipts by way of email and text.
I allow people to download slides from my speaking events, something they would often ask me to do anyway, by sending a short code text to a specific number. This particular process allows them to get what they want when they want it without much work and certainly takes me out of the process as well.
Enabling mobile engagement through tools such a click to call, click to chat or click for driving directions is another way to help people get what they want in the highly impatient, highly motivated world of mobile commerce.
I think the key to understanding any new technology or tactic is pretty simple. First figure out how you can use it to make something your customer is already doing easier and better. If you can do that it doesn’t matter how you see others using it or not.
(Small Business Marketing Expert)
Far too many organizations spend all of their efforts on landing the new client and then immediately move on leaving the customer experience to chance or to Bob in shipping and Alice in accounting.
Creating a new customer onboarding process is actually pretty simple and may produce the highest return on marketing investment of any process you can install.
Below are a few of the key elements to consider for your onboarding system.
Make sure that your customer is introduced, either in person, via video chat or in the form of a document, to everyone in the organization that handles any aspect of their account or that they may need to contact further.
You can use these introductions as a bit of an orientation as well so team members can help set expectations and provide any information needed to keep things moving.
Connect with tech
These days we have lots of communication and productivity tools at our disposal. Use these tools not as a buffer for real human contact, but as a way to make doing business with you easy, convenient and efficient.
Find out your client’s preferred method of contact and collaboration and then put together the best possible technology solution to work with them.
For example if you know your client prefers to meet in person, meet in person, but also introduce them to Skype video chat or Google+Hangout technology and use these tools to provide extra real person interaction via computer for certain types of contact.
If you have lots of ongoing communication or collaboration needs introduce you client to a tool such as Basecamp or Central Desktop so you can help them keep tasks, emails and documents organized.
I once had a client that would bake a pie and send it to the office of every new client prior to their first working meeting. This little surprise was talked about every time they met after that. (It helped that the pies were really good too.)
Another client, a financial planner, had his client’s car detailed by a mobile detail service right out in his parking lot during his initial meeting with a client. He told them to be prepared to hand over the keys to their car when they arrived for a special surprise. It built some interesting suspense and thrilled his clients when they realized what a nice touch he had in store for them.
Surprises, good ones at least, make people remember you and make people talk about you – all good things when it comes referrals and repeat sales.
Give them homework
This one is a little tricky, but I think it goes a long way towards building commitment and value. Give your new clients an assignment to get work started.
Every business will be different, but I find that when we make our clients step back and think and do a little work, even hard, soul-searching work, they immediately find value, connection and accountability in the work we’re doing.
Pushing your client to take action on their behalf, even if it simply means reading the directions for how to better operate your product and then taking a fun little quiz to see how they did, demonstrates that you’re serious about them getting a result.
It also tells you right off the bat what kind of client you’re working with.
Start the results discussion now
I’ve always maintained that a sale isn’t really a sale until the client gets the results they were promised.
I think one of the most powerful things you can do is create some form of a results review and bake it right into your product or service delivery routine. When you have a process to start measuring your client’s success and you introduce this process in the onboarding phase of doing business, you automatically reinforce your commitment to delivering the result promised.
It’s also a great ongoing way to measure how happy your client is. At times clients lose interest in continuing a relationship because they lose sight of just how much value they are actually receiving.
This alone is a powerful thing, but you also give yourself and your staff a boost every time you measure the value your company has produced for yet another client. (Hint: This is one of the best ways to wrap your head around raising your prices.)
Customer onboarding is a system, it’s a really important and potentially insanely profitable system when you take the time to create it with an awesome customer experience and referral generating buzz in mind.
(Small Business Marketing Expert)