Most for-sale services can benefit from this principal…customers like to buy more than one of a thing when they find something they like and believe in. And it really doesn’t matter what you sell . . . haircuts, cold-pressed coffee, carpet cleaning or dog walking. When your customers are making their decisions, give them the option to buy more than one at a time.

You can offer haircuts every two months, daily coffee delivery, quarterly carpet cleaning or dog walking whenever they need it. It’s why the “subscription of the month” clubs and the weekly meal delivery services are so popular right now.

Give them a discount or a bonus of some kind if they make a long-term commitment to you. Your customer no longer has to think about where they are going to go for that service six months from now, because they’ve already chosen you. You no longer have to worry about how many customers you will have six months from now.

Most people are turning to Facebook advertising these days. Nothing wrong with that. But when you’re in a service business, sometimes a local, face-to-face approach might work out in your favor. Most grocery stores print coupons on the back of their receipts for other businesses that have nothing to do with food…guy a loaf of bread and you get a coupon for an oil change. Consider what you could do if you found a complementary business to advertise with or work with.

For example, a gym or spa might have a corkboard holding the business cards of other health service providers they feel good about recommending. Could you get to know them and add your card to the list? Could you get them to add an item in their next newsletter that new gym members get 10% off your services as well?

If they advertise in print, could you split the cost with them and add your offer to the promotion?

Think of the way that wedding planning services work…planners and publications often offer “package deals” where the bride orders catering, flowers, a cake, tailoring services and photography from one vendor. What would happen if you found a network that complemented your niche and began promoting yourself that way? If the opportunity doesn’t exist, would you be willing to put the hard work into creating it?

Photo by on Unsplash

What would you say if someone said that it must be nice to not work for anyone? To be your own boss?

When you own your own business, the quick answer to the question of who you work for is that you work for yourself. But when you really think about it, that’s not true. You work for your customers. Because if they’re not happy with your performance, they won’t come back.

I own my own freelance writing business. Many people have commented over the years that “it must be nice to not have a boss.” At first I went along and agreed.

Then, I started realizing that when I agreed with people that I didn’t have a boss, particularly when I was still working from my home, that seemed to devalue their opinion of my work. They thought I just worked from home when I felt like it, that I could take as many days off as I wanted to, or choose not to do the work if I didn’t like it.

When I started responding, “actually, I have several bosses,” they seemed to more fully understand that I wasn’t just sitting on the couch eating bonbons. The work needed to get done whether I felt like it or not. It was easier to explain that if I took days off I didn’t get paid. And I explained that I had to check in with the editors of all the websites, newspapers and magazines that I was working for to make sure I had more work coming down the pipe after the work I was doing currently was done. I was always looking for more work from the bosses I already had, and was always trying to find a new boss.

And if I didn’t give my “bosses” what they wanted, they wouldn’t hire me again. So . . . who do you work for?

It’s the day before Thanksgiving, when we all start to think more about gratitude and giving thanks. If you’re grateful for your many bosses (your customers), show them. Not just on Thanksgiving, but all the time. What would that look like for you?

We may think we know when the best time to post on Facebook is. But have you actually checked it out? The data doesn’t lie! Here’s how to tell when’s the best time to post on Facebook.

Open up the admin of the Facebook page you want to check out. Then click on the Insights tab. Then click on Posts. There’s a report called “When Your Fans Are Online” that visually shows an average of how many people are on your page and when. Using the days of the week numbers at the top, you can also see how these numbers vary on specific days of the week. In our case, Thursday showed the highest numbers. Tuesday showed the lowest numbers. Tuesday was a 230-person difference from the highest.

Here’s the data for how many people are on the page at 6am, Pacific time. More than 91,000. That’s 9am Eastern time. I always take into account that Facebook visitors are not all in the same time zone as I am.

Compare that to the data for how many people are on the page at 9am (noon Eastern time). There’s almost an 18,000-person difference!

When you open Facebook, it’s algorithm springs into action. It scans and collects everything posted by each of your friends, and activities in your groups. It remembers all of the things you’ve liked. No one outside of Facebook knows the actual formula for what it displays to its users. It takes some combination of what it believes to be the order of importance you’ll prefer based on your past actions. Out of what could potentially be thousands of posts, the average user may only see the top hundred or so.

If Facebook shows something and it doesn’t get reactions, it’s not likely to show it again. That’s why the more likes or comments a post has, the more likely it is for others to see that particular post. To maximize your exposure, post at the optimum time for your group of fans.

We checked out the Insights for the pages we manage and they all followed this general shape of the curve shown in these screenshots. They also showed a bump in views at the 6pm hour.

If you post earlier in the day and get a lot of activity on your 9am post, it’s more likely that the 6pm crowd will see that post. If you use another social media platform like Instagram or Twitter, try to get some data on those platforms and coordinate, so each of your posts is getting the max exposure.

The quick answer to that question is, more than you probably think. Let’s look at all the ways that you can connect with your customers.

The first way is with your website as a whole. You should have a clear enough idea of who your trying to reach that when they go to your site, your ideal customer immediately knows they are in the right place. Use imagery and language that speaks to them. Understanding who they are and what they are looking for will set you apart.

Another way is when they sign up to join your email list. Sign-ups often get an automatic reply letting the customer know they’ve been subscribed. These emails are typically very easy to customize. Take a moment to test yours out and see if it has the message you want. If it is a boring line of text that just says ‘Thank you, you are now subscribed,’ you can do better.

If the customers completes a purchase, what do they see after the purchase goes through? There are many opportunities for connections when you are tracking your customers the way that we recommend. For instance, if you integrate Facebook ads to your marketing budget, adding a Facebook pixel allows you to create audiences for your ads based on what your customers do.

See this post for more information about segmenting your Facebook ads. But basically, Facebook ads can target people who have ever visited your website (once the pixel is in place), people who visited your Pricing page (this means they were interested but probably not yet convinced to buy), people who abandoned their shopping carts (again, interested but not yet ready), and people who have previously purchased). With some creativity, you can come up with even more audiences based on your specific needs. Following up with each of these unique audiences is a unique way to connect.

Let’s say someone does make a purchase. Do they get a confirmation email? What does it say? If it’s just a boring line of text, make it better and more personal.

Send a follow up email after they’ve had the item for a couple of weeks checking in to see if it’s all they dreamed of. Perhaps ask them for a review. Suggest they take a photo and tag it on Instagram (make sure you follow up and like the post).

All of these are examples of connecting with customers in ways that many businesses don’t think of. But when you break it all down, isn’t it just all about getting personal? You’re giving them opportunities to get to know your business in many ways, and they’re giving you the opportunity to get to know them and exactly what they want.

Have you ever boosted a post on Facebook and had it rejected? I have, multiple times. Sometimes, it’s because Facebook doesn’t like the picture. Maybe for a health care blog post about abdominal pain I chose a photo of a white woman with a flat stomach. Facebook OK’s the boost only after I change the photo to that of a doctor.

Other times, Facebook tells me I need to focus the post on the company’s products or services rather than on the audience’s characteristics. For instance, on this same health-care blog, focusing a post on pregnancy-related back pain on what the doctors can do (give you advice on back pain) rather than the woman’s needs during pregnancy (pregnancy is a physical characteristic Facebook won’t call attention to).

I’ve now had boosted posts denied, and have gone through the process of appealing them and changing them several times. I argue that what Facebook is doing is the exact opposite of good marketing advice. Here’s why.

How many times have you heard marketers say to “get inside your customer’s heads”? Have you heard people talk about “buyer personas”? This means grouping your target customer based on the characteristics that make them prime targets for your products. Are they parents, beer drinkers, city dwellers, what’s their level of education? Are they men, women, Republicans, Democrats? What kind of car do they drive?

You should be able to pretty well narrow down exactly the type of person you’re trying to reach with a buyer persona. Essentially, creating a buyer persona is dialing down into the Who, What (the problem they have), Why, and How (how your solution solves their problem).

Here at Build Your Dream Business we talk about knowing where customers are on the customer awareness spectrum. This means you know where they are in the process of solving their problems. Do they know they have a problem that you can solve? Are they researching solutions? Are they far enough along that they are comparing your solution to a competitor’s solution? Knowing this is key to being able to market to them with language that directly speaks to where they are in the process and what solution they are looking for.

But even before you place a customer on a spectrum, you need to know who your customer is, and speak to them about problems they need solving. The pregnant woman who has pregnancy-related back pain is exactly who you want to talk to if you are an OB GYN doctor looking for new patients. You’re not trying to reach the non-pregnant woman with back pain. The pregnancy is a characteristic that absolutely affects how you market to her. And unfortunately, Facebook’s codes of advertising conduct prevent you from using language in your post (to boost it) reaching woman based specifically on that characteristic.

That’s why you have to take control of what you can produce on your own site. Write blog posts that speak exactly to your target audience. Create videos that use your target audience in the videos. Create infographics specifically geared to your target audience. Yes, Facebook might not let you boost the post. But sometimes, good marketing is better than Facebook.

What? Email marketing and a healthy and growing email list has long been seen as the holy grail of marketing. Email is still important. I’m definitely not denying the importance of keeping in touch with people that way. But I’m here to tell you unsubscribes aren’t something to stress over.

Your own expectations for your growing email list can make any unsubscribe–especially if it’s from someone you know–feel as bad as a romantic breakup. Marketers, and myself included, have told people to closely monitor your email unsubscribes to see if the message you’re producing is reaching people the way you hope it will. I still recommend paying attention to your statistics. But at some point you will realize that you can’t make everyone happy. And trying to make everyone happy and avoid those unsubscribes will bring you down.

You might even consider removing inactive subscribers yourself. If someone hasn’t, say, opened any of your emails for the last 4 months, you can remove them. In the “olden days” many businesses sent out print catalogs. They welcomed having their recipients call to cancel their catalogs, because it meant that they were no longer paying mailing costs to send a catalog to someone who didn’t want it.

Email marketing is so much more cost-effective than that. It may be tempting to think that you’re better off keeping anyone on the list. Not so. Trim the deadwood. Make room for people who really want to hear your message. And email those people. If you are constantly re-evaluating your content and adjusting your messages to try to reach the people who unsubscribe or don’t open your emails, you’re not focusing on the people who really do want your messages.

With all this in mind, everyone on your email list is not the same. Each person who subscribes is at a different point in the “journey” to purchasing your products and services. (Learn more about that here: “The 6 Levels in the Customer Awareness Spectrum) Treat them differently. Mail services are robust enough now that you can easily send a separate message to the people who haven’t bought in six months, or bought yesterday. If you want to try a softer approach before you manually remove someone, you might try a separate re-engagement tactic just for those unresponsive emails. Do that, and don’t sweat the unsubscribes.

If a product launches and no one hears about it, does anyone care? We know that not every product can drop with the hype of a new Apple iPhone. But a key to building successful sales and repeat customers is for as many people as possible to hear about a product launch. Not just when the launch happens, but before and after as well. How can you do that? How can you maximize your product launch? The best launches have some momentum you can build on.

1. Make sure people know your backstory. We touched on this in the post, “Introduce Yourself, Get Personal, Share Your Motivations.” If people know your story, then the conversation changes. It can go from, “Oh, did you hear there’s another product that does this?” to, “Oh, did you hear that the people who did this made a new product?” The second example makes the launch of the product not just about the product, but about the people behind it, and that’s ideal.

2. Get people talking before the launch. Leave some room in your budget for some pre-launch excitement. If you’re boosting on Facebook, you might boost some posts that give a little excitement or teaser of the product without revealing exactly what it is. If you know your product will launch in summer, when spring comes put something on your website to tease it. When you send out newsletters prior to your launch, put in a little house ad or photo teasing what’s to come. Check this link on Pinterest which has some clever examples of ways that images can be used in your newsletter, on your website and in your social media posts to generate interest on a product or service that is yet to come:

3. Get people talking, part two. Reach out to leaders in your industry and tell them that you have an exciting product launch planned. Get them on board to write reviews or articles about it when it’s ready.

4. Set the scene. When Apple launches a new product, they have closed their online store, so that people who visit their website know something exciting is taking place. Their customers almost have no choice but to listen. Can you instigate that level of excitement in your launch? If you, with your non-Apple-sized budget and your busy life, were going to really get people to pay attention to your launch, how would you do it?

5. Take pre-orders. There are many ways that this can work. You could invite people to pay $10 ahead of time for $10 off their order when your new flavor of smoothie bowl launches. You could sign people up ahead of time for an appointment as soon as your new service launches. Get some buy-in and harness some of that enthusiasm you’re hoping to create ahead of time.

6. Be different. Perhaps the main reason that Apple can sell 1.7 million units of an iPhone within the first three days of a launch is because the product that they offered was not only revolutionary. It also was marketed in a way that spoke to people. Steve Jobs didn’t just talk about how great the phone was. He talked about how it could make life easier for people. He talked about how it made common every day tasks easier and more convenient. That made people want it. And the phone delivered on its promise.

What room do you have to be different? Can you offer something above and beyond what anyone else in your niche is doing? If so, that’s what people will resonate with and that’s what they’ll buy. Something different. Something that helps them.

If you’re in a service business, your customers are the reason you’re in business. Right? You’re out there doing what you do for the people who want it. If you find out what your customers really want is something almost exactly like what you’re offering but slightly different, would you change your service?

When customers buy a service, they want their problems solved. Messy house and no time to clean? They want a cleaning service. But that’s not all. They want cheerful service. On time-service. Service that delivers what was promised. That doesn’t make them feel inadequate for needing or wanting to hire a cleaning service in the first place. They want that service at a fair price. They want to be able to trust the service completely, even if they aren’t home. If you get any of these things wrong, you probably have lost a customer.

The person who hires a cleaning service–or any service–is struggling with a problem they want solved, and is buying into much more than just “a product.” The transaction is much more emotional than logical.

You fail to give customers what they really want when you do one of three things:
1. Treat every customer the same
2. You’re not asking customers what they really want
3. You’re not listening when they tell you

Treating every customer the same…what does that mean? Don’t dumb down your services so you’re reaching the lowest common denominator. Don’t assume that the complaining customer only wants a refund. Maybe he wants an apology, and one that seems sincere at that. Not treating every customer the same means being an authentic human that is relating to that authentic human that is talking with you about their concerns.

Asking customers what they really want can be easy. Use recent subscriptions or purchases as triggers to follow up with an email asking for product reviews, service feedback or survey participation. If you use an automated email for this, offer different ways of receiving replies, including calling you with a direct phone number.
When you get feedback, don’t use a cut-and-paste response.

Find out what your customers really want. Let them know that you got their answers and that you really care. Use that information to enhance their loyalty to you. It might mean slightly changing the formula of your product or service. Maybe even just for that one customer. Because after all, without customers, you have no service.

No one else can tell your story.

Anyone can conceivably open a business. But YOU opened YOUR business.

Anyone can collect products from manufacturers and assemble them for sale on a website.

Anyone can hang up a shingle and start offering some kind of service. But YOU did it your way.

Why? Why did you care enough about those products, or that business niche, to start that business? Tell us why you cared so much. Let us get to know your thoughts and motivations behind starting your business. Tell us what makes YOUR business different. Even if you’re offering the same services that several other businesses are offering.

You can introduce yourself, get personal and share your motivations in a few different ways. First, make your story a big part of your website. Tell your story on your About page. Link to the causes you support. If you undertake any advertising you can work in your motivation to your advertisements.

Need some inspiration? Check out the “Our Vodka” page on Tito’s Handmade Vodka. He puts himself into every ad. At this point, he’s identifiable as a person. And even though we all know that Tito’s Handmade Vodka is a huge and successful company, what’s the one thing most people relate to when they think about this company? Tito himself. It’s personal. And his story isn’t just quickly told in one or two paragraphs…his story continues all the way down the page, scroll after scroll, with photos and the growth of the company at every stage. He even tells us how much credit card debt he racked up ($88,000 in case you’re wondering where your debt stands in comparison.)

Make a big deal out of why you do what you do. Introduce yourself. Get personal. Share your motivations. Telling us why you do what you do and why we should care is a better way to build bridges and get us interested in your products than simply selling to us.