Christmas sales truckWe’ve been talking about how important it is to keep the right attitude about sales during the holidays.

Sales can be year round.  Black Fridays, Cyber Mondays, Black Saturdays and whatever other things hit around Christmas. . . not to mention New Year’s Sales, Easter Sales, Independence Day Sales, Thanksgiving, Halloween, etc.

It is not about keeping up with the trends and riding each wave that comes along each year, it is about the attitude about it.

Do we create sales because everyone else is or do we create sale because we value our customers and want to honor God?

I know we can get controversial here, but let’s keep it real.  God gave you the opportunity to have a business, not to make money, but to impact lives.

Yes, you will make money if you are helping other solve their problems.  There is no problem to charge for the products and services you have.  If you don’t make money, you can’t help people.

Sales, discounts, coupons, marketing . . . these are all part of business.  Our plans should include how we will help others and make an impact for God.

With the new year coming up, have you taken time to pray about your plans for the next year?  Have you truly engaged the God of the Universe, who gave you your business, in the plans for your business?

It is not about sales. . .it is about having a right relationship with money.  It is about having a growing relationship with God.  

If you keep your life and your business lined up with God, then your plans will help people and impact lives.  One of those lives is yours.  You will grow, your business will grow and God will be standing right beside you smiling and saying . . . “Well, done, my good and faithful servant.”

 

 

Christians in business start with a growing relationship with the God of the Universe. #ChristianBusiness #ChristianEntrepreneur Click To Tweet

Origin of Holiday Sales

the origin of holiday salesWhen we look back it is hard to pin down the origin of holiday sales in America, but we can see a specific trend emerging starting with Franklin Roosevelt in 1939.

Roosevelt moved Thanksgiving from last Thursday to the fourth Thursday. That may not seem like a big move, but in some years that added an extra week before Christmas allowing retailers to have more time to sell presents for Christmas.

Why wait till after Thanksgiving?

There was an unwritten rule among retailers that they should not advertise about Christmas before Thanksgiving. Many of them were chomping at the bits and jumped on the idea that so many people were taking Friday off after Thanksgiving. That gave them more potential customers, so they competed to get them in the doors.

Basically, each year large cities would host a parade celebrating Thanksgiving. It would end with Santa.  That would trigger people to think about preparing for Christmas.   That would allow retailers the opportunity to have sales immediately following Thanksgiving.

Where do we get Black Friday?

Black Friday was coined in the 1950’s with a different meaning.  It was a day that workers called in sick in order to have a four day weekend.  It was also used by Police to refer to the abundance of people congregating in town centers on that same day.

It was not until 1975 in an article in the New York times that we got the modern meaning.  It referred to the biggest shopping day of the season.  It wasn’t until 1985 that it become more widespread, even though the trend had not hit many larger cities.

 

The Black Friday Modern Trend

The respect for Thanksgiving has been trampled by the need to get one step earlier than the competition.  It went from opening early on Friday to pushing to midnight sales and today many retailers just stay open on Thanksgiving.

A simple observation can tell us that our society is slowly creeping holidays across the entire year to better pad their bottom line. If they can keep us thinking about the next thing to buy in this ever aware digital society, they can get our hard earned money for the newest trends and electronices.

 

What is the point for Christians?

This year I saw Christmas decorations the day after Halloween.  We are bombarded by people trying to get our attention.  We live in a modern society that begs us to keep up with everyone else, less we become antiquated.  I mean, really, is that last years phone?!

Christians need to reevaluate the reason for holidays.  Thanksgiving is not about turkey.  It is about family and thanking God for the opportunities He has given us over the last year.  Christmas is not about gifts, it is about THE GIFT.  Christ came to earth to save us.  (How much money could we save if that was our focus?)

I don’t claim to have all of the answers.  I just want us to start a dialogue and separate our buying habits from our celebration of Christ’s birth.

 

Conclusion for Christian business owners.

If our strategy is to take advantage of every wind and wave that comes along, we are missing the boat.  As business owners, we want to make sales, but more than that, we should want to help others.

Our strategy needs to be caring for our customers, understanding their needs. If we choose to use the holidays to connect to them in a powerful way, then go for it.  Just make sure our purpose is always centered in our direction from our CEO, God.  Pray, read His Word and act accordingly in your business!

 

If you want to maximize sales for Christmas, focus on the real reason and act accordingly. #ChristianBusiness #Christianentrepreneur #Christmas Click To Tweet

 

For more info check out these articles on Wikipedia:

 

holiday salesBlack friday . . . cyber monday . . .it all amounts to hurrying to get the next best deal.

What if we built a business based on God’s principles?  What would happen if people trusted our business so much that they did not even think about going somewhere else no matter what kind of sales were going on?

I am not saying we should not be competitive, but our competitive advantage is the way we care for people.  It is the way that God’s love shines out of our business and into the lives of others.

I am not saying I have all the answers.  I am saying we need to rethink how we use holidays to sell more stuff.  Our focus should always be on the way we care for others and share the love of God.  If our customers know that, we don’t have to entice them with the next big sale.  Instead, we can honor them with their committed loyalty and help them make a great decision.

Holiday sales should be about honoring our customers and our God. #ChristianBusiness #ChristianEntrepreneur Click To Tweet

steps to grow your business3 Things you need to understand to grow your business

Growing a business takes a lot of work.  We all hope for the day our business becomes viral and people flock to us like moths to a flame, but in reality, growing a business takes a bit of time.  It takes a foundational understanding of what we do, who we do it for and how to tell them about it.

 

Understand what you sell in business

I know a lot of business owners think they know what they sell.  I am always surprised to see that they really don’t know what they are selling.

Let’s say you sell new cars.  There are thousands of different cars to choose from, so how do you stand out?  You stand out by understanding what you are selling.  If you have a minivan, you may be selling safety and security.  If you have a sports car, you may be selling power and prestige.

Here’s a quick exercise.  Take your product or service and define how your customer’s life is different after they use your product.  Then, ask “Why?”  Do that five levels deep.  Once you do that, you will truly understand what you are really selling.

For example, let’s say you sell minivans.  Your customers have a car that fits all of their family together.  Why?  Because having enough room is important.  Why? So the kids don’t fight.  Why? So they have a more peaceful ride. Why? So the parents can concentrate on the road.  Why? Because family is important and we want them to be safe.

If you follow those five levels you will see that family is important to people who buy minivans.  You are selling the idea of family, unity, peace and security.  You are not just selling a minivan.

 

Understand who you do business for

Once we have nailed down exactly what it is that we are selling, we must understand who needs it most.  Our customers are the people who are going to purchase and if you get this one wrong, we will always have a struggling business.

First thing we must get right is how they think and talk.  Each group of customers speaks a different language.  They may all speak English, but what they say is different.

A twenty something new mother is going to use different vernacular than a forty something female executive.  They are the same general persona, but they have widely different circles of influence, habits and values.  What is important to one may not be as important to both of them.

It is important that we really nail down our ‘best type’ of customer.  If we try to get everyone into our business, we will find ourselves doing a lot of work and getting minimal results.

Think about fishing.  Depending on what type of fish you want, you need the right type waters (lake, river, ect.), the right bait, the right hooks, the right equipment to get where they are, and the right timing.

The more we understand our ideal customer, the better we can talk to them and help them with the business that we have.

Here’s a quick exercise.  Write down 10 things your ideal customer values.  Write down 10 habits they may have.  Where do they shop?  What do they drive?  Where do they spend leisure time? Etc.  Once you nail down those 20 items.  Write a ‘day in the life of’ you ideal customer.  What does their life look like before they use your business and what will it look like after they use your business?

 

Understand how to tell customers about your business

Everyone likes to buy but no one likes to be sold.  People love getting a good deal and finding things that help them with problems they have in everyday life.  They love businesses that can speak their language and if they can relate to your business, they will be a loyal customer for life.

I can’t express this hard enough.  If we want our customers to buy from us, they must like us.  They must feel like we understand them and are there to help them.  No longer are we in the days of yelling the loudest to get the most attention, we are in the days of whispering in the ears of good friends and engaging them on a personal level.

You have a message about how you can help your customers.  They want to know how you can help them.  Put together the two ideas from above.  Do they fit?  If not, fix the one that makes the most sense.  Remember, people love to buy things that help their lives and solve pain points they feel, but they only listen to you if they feel like you are talking directly to them.

 

Putting it all together

Here is a real life example. I was talking to an insurance sales man.  Their motto of their company was “for all your insurance needs from A to Z” (slightly altered to protect the company).  I asked what they did different that all the other companies that say they have all kinds of insurance.

He said, “Well, we are Christian and we pray for our people.  We have all the insurance they need and can probably get them a better rate than they are currently getting.”

I asked, “Many insurance agents offer all types of insurance and a lot of them say they can save you money. What are you doing differently?  Are your customers Christian?”

He said, “Why, yes, most of them are. I don’t guess I ever realized that.”

I suggested, “Then why don’t you emphasize your Christianity?  I would put our some ads, geared at Christians that said, ‘When was the last time your insurance agent prayed for you?’ When people know you are praying for them, they realize that you really care for them and that is different than other insurance agents.”

He said he had never thought of that and would have to do some work to see if he could get more people.

See, he wasn’t just selling insurance, there are thousands of people doing that.  He was selling a company that prayed for you.  In essence, he was selling insurance agents who care about you and your needs so much they will take time to pray for you.

Being in business as a Christian may not mean you only have Christian customers, but some do. You must identify your ideal customer and how you can help them.  Then, and only then, will you be ready to tell them what you have and how you can help them.

 

People love to buy, but they hate being sold. #Christianbusiness #ChristianEntrepreneur Click To Tweet

 

 

marketing strategyA marketing strategy is a growth mechanism for any business. Christian entrepreneurs understand they need to pray for growth and plan for it with an on-going, effective marketing strategy.

We’ve talked about business strategy and communication strategy.  Today, we get practical by putting these two together in a marketing strategy that brings in new customers.  Let’s define marketing.

Marketing is making sure those who need what you have know about it.

In other words, you help solve a problem in your business and it is your responsibility to make sure potential customers know that you can help them.

Before we go too far, let me say that marketing and advertising are different.  Advertising is the item you are using to market.  A flyer is an advertisement.  Marketing is strategically placing that flyer at the most effective location and making sure it has the most effective draw to your ideal customer.

 

Marketing Strategy

Marketing strategy is lining up your ideal customer with your ideal message.  Start with your customer and their needs.  Then, add in relevant and specific messages in a way that communicates with them.  We have other articles about your ideal customer and communicating well in marketing (see links at the bottom of this article).

When you refer back to your mission and vision, you should see a consistent pattern in how you help people.  The way to help people is the key to marketing.  It is not about shouting from the roof tops, though that may work for some businesses.  It is about creating a message that specifically and effectively talks to your ideal customer and helps them with a pain in their life.

 

Marketing Channels

An effective marketing strategy understands there are many marketing channels.  Each of these channels must line up for a specific message for your customer.  Basically, you must decide where the most effective location for your marketing would be best suited.  You have to define where your customers go to get information to solve the problem your business solves.

Here are some marketing channels to think about:

  • Webpage (SEO, Content marketing, etc.)
  • Social media
  • Coupon books
  • Billboards
  • Flyers/Mailer/Direct Mail
  • Whitepapers and reports
  • Webinars and video series
  • Commercials on TV or Internet
  • Digital ads (PPC or CPC)

 

I don’t want to inundate you with ideas.  I have a list of over 100 ways I can help businesses market their company.  My background is in helping businesses find ideal ways to grow through marketing.

As a matter of fact, you can have one million ways, but until you know your goals and understand your customer, it will be hard to create a marketing strategy.  You must start with a specific goal.  There will be some trial and error, but you must engage your customer to understand them better.  Then, you must go where they go and make it seem as though you are everywhere they are.

 

Marketing strategy is creating a message that is an integral part of your customer’s life. #Christianbusiness #Christianentrepreneur Click To Tweet

 

How to set up your marketing strategy

  1. Start with your vision and mission.  Set a goal that you want from your marketing.
  2. Once you have a goal, set up a valuable sequence to bring your buyers from knowing about your product to actually buying your product.  You must know where your customers are in the buyer’s journey.
  3. Do your research.  Talk to current customers.  Engage online in forums and social media to really get to know your customer.  Look for pain points and common terms among your potential customers.
  4. Based on your research develop a marketing sequence.  Post your ads where they will get the most attraction and make sure it lines up with the terms and pain points of your potential customers.
  5. Evaluate each piece of your marketing to test its effectiveness.  Make sure any calls or emails that you gather have tracking so you know where your customers find out about your business.
  6. Once you know the most effective source, put more time and effort into developing a solid campaign.

 

Conclusion

It may sound like a lot to do, but you are fine tuning how you communicate with your customer.  You are defining how they hear about you and making sure you can help them.  As Christians, we should want to help as many people as possible.  It is our duty and responsibility to treat people with kindness and integrity.

Marketing strategies are simply aligning how you help with where your customer are.  Whether it is online, at a location or some other idea you found when doing your research, get to where your customers are and make sure they know how you can help them.  Do it in a way that benefits your customers and not just for your sales.

Here are some articles you may find helpful:

If you need a professional to help you design a solid effective marketing campaign for your business, here is a link to a Christian Marketing Consultant I trust.  Just tell them you found him on Christian Business Revolution and he’ll give you a great deal.

writing emails for businessChristian entrepreneurs can write powerful and engaging emails with a few simple tweaks in the way we think about email marketing.

We have been talking about email marketing.  I want to emphasize again, as Christians, we are building relationships with everything we are doing.  We may be looking for sales, but ultimately there is a person behind every transaction.  We are called to help them.  That is why we are in business.

With that in mind, let’s talk about how to write emails.  Of course, you can buy an entire course to learn this, but I think you can learn what you need from this simple blog post.  Don’t overthink it.  Write emails like you talk to people.

 

How to ‘talk’ in emails

I have seen too many businesses sharing emails like this: “Hello valued subscriber.  We have the greatest assortment of widgets.  Go to our page to buy are widgets.”  Static…boring. . .uncaring!

Even if you are a professional organization, the point of emails is to communicate.  People communicate with people not corporations.  Don’t write from the corporation to the customer.  Write from one person to another.

If you saw a great movie, you would quickly tell anyone who would listen.  You would use personal words like “That movie made me feel like I could conquer the world.”  If you heard a great sermon, you would share with your friends.  “The pastor knocked it out of the park this Sunday.  The sermon really got me thinking about how to deepen my relationship with Christ.”

That is how you write emails.  They are personal, engaging and use words real people use in real life.

 

Write Subject Lines people want to open

Make sure your subject line gives your readers a reason to open the email.  This person may be getting hundreds of emails each day, so you want yours to stand out.  Use powerful words and curiosity.

Some of the most interesting email subject lines I have seen recently involve words of emotion.  “I messed up,” was the title of an email I got recently.  It intrigued me, so I opened it to see what it was all about.  This is known as a ‘blind’ subject line.  It builds curiosity.  Only use these if you have established a relationship via email over the course of a few weeks.

Most of your emails will have a subject line that offers value.  “Here’s an article about how you can get more customers for your nail salon.” It shares the value and tells the reader why they should open it.  Be careful it does not become spammy.

Spammy subject lines may be “Try my stuff free.”  “Hurry, before it’s too late.” “Money for nothing.”  Things like that can quickly end up the email spam or trash folder.

Use words with power and action. Think about how you can make the subject line sincere, snappy, emotional, celebratory or even joking.  People want to get to know other people and if your subject line can engage your customers, they will readily open your email.

Pro Tip: Develop a ‘swipe’ file.  Anytime you see a good email subject, copy it and put it in a document or folder within your email.  Use these as primers when you write your next email.

 

Personalize You Communication

If you are writing, even if you are using an autoresponder, take time to personalize the email.  You can use the person’s name or business either typed in of filled in via tags on your autoresponder.  You can also make the body of the email personalized.

For instance, if the Olympics are going on.  Make a statement about something you saw at one of the games.  This makes the email seem more ‘real’ because the reader is in the same world you are in.  It engages and connects with them in a personal way.

 

Have a Single focus

Get to the point early.  Make sure you have a single point and engage your reader from the first line.  Your point may be to tell a story, so start off with something simple like, “Let me tell you story. . . “ and tell them why you are telling that story.

If your email has more than one focus, the reader will probably skim over it and they will miss something.  There is nothing wrong with having more than one email to communicate an idea.

Each email should be able to stand on its own. Keep it short and to the point because most people are busy and they only skim emails.  They only see the highlights.  To help the reader, use bullet points, pictures and bold text to highlight the important parts for them.

 

Valuable content

Make sure what you share is valuable to the reader, not just to your business.  Email marketing is not to tell something about you and your business.  Write to help them make lives better.  If that means doing business with you, then tell them about how you help after you have established a relationship.

Think of email marketing like dating.  You don’t ask someone to marry you on the first date.  Get to know them and share interesting, valuable and entertaining content.  After you have talked for a while, then mention what you have to offer and how you can enrich their lives.

When we talk about valuable content, it can be as simple as a tip or trick.  If they purchased from you maybe the subject line is “How to get the most out of your Kenmore dishwasher” or “3 Tips to get the most out of your Kenmore dishwasher.”  Those tips will be valuable to a recent customer.

You can also share information that fits your audience.  If they bought a dishwasher, why not share some cooking tips.  They have to eat something before washing plates, right?  Share a recipe or something interesting to your readers. You can find posts, podcasts, infographics, videos, etc.

 

Consider Your Call to action

When you send an email, you want the customer to take action. You may want them to read an article and share their own tips.  You may want them to respond to tell you how they are liking their new dishwasher.  A call to action, could be as simple as “Have a nice day.”

Again, we are communicating with real people.  When we leave a conversation, we have an ‘exit.’  When you end an email think about the same thing.  How do you end your email?  You want to leave the reader with something.  It may be an encouraging quote or Bible verse.  It may be the weather and telling them to take a moment to enjoy it.

As you get into selling your products, you can have them call, click or take some other action that is more focused on your business.  The key is to have more personal call to actions before you have sales call to actions.

One more note about call to actions: people may not interact.  Focus on the ones that do interact and keep building relationships with the others.

 

Use Your Signature

Use your signature line to your advantage.  Here is where you can really engrain what you do into the brains of your customers.  Put your contact information and include a picture if you can.  Sure you can use your logo, but people buy from people.  Put your smiling face on there with a professional headshot.

Make your signature stand out with a ‘byline.’  Share a benefit or your company value statement.  It should be short and memorable.  If I was writing an email, I would include “Grow your faith.  Grow your business.” Right below my name. . . come to think of it, I need to add that to my byline .. .see, I am learning too!

You can include a link to your website, social media, or whatever, but be careful about too many links.  As a general rule of thumb, your email should have only two to three links.  I suggest mixing it up. On one email, tell them to like your Facebook page or send them to an article found on your Facebook page.  On another send them a link to your webpage with the title, “Let me know if I can help.”

 

Conclusion

Let’s be honest, you know how email works.  If you are reading this article, there’s a good chance you have an email where you send and receive messages.  Get your emails working for you and your business.  As your business grows, so will your influence with your customers and your influence as a Christian.

Get a game plan to collect emails and engage with your customers.  If you need help, consider joining our coaching program (also known as our membership) or hiring a Christian business coach.  I am here to help as much as I can.  You just need to take the first step and take some action.

 

Email marketing is people talking to other people in personal and engaging ways. #ChristianBusiness #ChristianEntrepreneur Click To Tweet

grow my businessBusiness Growth Habits for Christian Entrepreneurs

As Christian entrepreneurs, we want to have a growing business so that we can help more people.  You can’t help people if they don’t know about your product or service.  You can have the best product in the world, but if you want to grow your business, you need to do whatever it takes to make sure people know about it.

 

Understand your customer

The first step to growth in any type of business is to understand your customer.  (Read our article on how to understand customers better.) You must know your customer so well that when they come into your store or read your webpage, they think, “This is just for me.”

Think about the places you enjoy doing business with.  You probably feel like they ‘get’ you.  You like the lay out, colors, the words they use, etc.

You want to do the same thing for your customer. WOW them by how well you understand them.  Then, you won’t just have customers, you will have loyal fans that will stick with you through thick and thin.

 

Understand what you sell

After you understand your customers, you want to understand what you sell.  Remember, if your product is drills, you are not selling drills.  You are selling holes. People want a hole and they buy a drill to get the result they want.

People want solutions and results.  Really dig down into what you sell.  What emotions will your customer have after using your product?  What will their life be like without your company?

Here’s a fun exercise:  Write down what a customer’s life is like before they use your product.  Then, write down how their life has changed after they use your product.  Be creative and notice any repeated words.  If you have trouble doing this exercise, you don’t know your customer well enough and you don’t really know what you are selling. (Don’t be offended about this, go take action, get to know your customer and grow your business.)

 

Understand your marketing strategy

Once you understand your customers and really know what you are selling, you must take action on that knowledge.  You want to create a marketing strategy.

Now before you start to check out, let me break this down simply.  A marketing strategy is simply know where your customers are and giving them an opportunity to know about your product.  It does not have to be complicated or salesy.  It just needs to show you genuinely care and are true to your word.

Pick one strategy and try that strategy as your one focus.  Put considerable effort into developing that strategy and making it work.  You want to learn all you can about your marketing strategy and really give it your best effort.   You may even consider hiring a a marketing professional to help give guidance or do it for you.  Whatever you do, make sure you track results and it lines up with what you know about your product and your customer.

 

 

Conclusion

Growing a business is all about the fundamentals.  The only way to grow your company is to understand your customers and understand what you actually sell.  Then, armed with that knowledge you set a strategy to make sure as many customers know about your business as possible.

Check out our other articles on marketing:

If you are really ready to grow your business, sign up for our Growth Membership.  It is affordable and provides training and resources to help you grow as a Christian and an entrepreneur.  Remember our motto: Grow your Faith, Grow your Business.  I’ll see you on the inside.

I would be remiss here if I did not remind you to pray about your strategy.  Make sure it is something that lines up with your customers and your business.  God will give you success if you listen to Him and wait on His leadership in your business.

 

Business Growth Formula= Know Your Product + Know Your Customers + Tell ‘Em. –Rev. H. #ChristianBusiness #ChristianEntrepreneur Click To Tweet

how to marketing strategyChristian entrepreneurs understand that marketing takes strategy.  A strategy placed into action will save money and get better results.

Picture this: a salesman enters your business and tells you about all the customers and money you will get if you just buy a simple coupon or ad in their magazine.   Or you get an email with the next greatest marketing idea that will change the way everyone is doing business. Or you get a flyer or phone call telling you about the newest craze and you can be one of the first to take advantage of this exciting offer.

How do you know which ones to choose and which one will work for your business?

Implementing a marketing strategy keeps you from being blown by the next wind of innovation that comes along.  I counted over one hundred different ways that I can help people with marketing and when you combine them that takes the numbers into the hundreds of thousands…if not millions.  With all of these choices, which one do you use?

Note: Make sure you read our previous articles.  In our first article we talked about what marketing is.  In our second article we shared a how to guide to get your marketing foundation set up. Today we talk about some simple steps to put a marketing strategy into action.

 

Starting with a marketing strategy

First, you must start with a good understanding about where your marketing is going.  You don’t want to blindfold yourself and throw something out to see what happens.  You want to have a targeted plan with a targeted goal.

It’s like fishing.  You have to have the right bait for the right fish.  Then you need to put your line in the water where the fish is most likely to be.

You should have read our article on the foundations of marketing.  If you did those exercises, you have what you need to set up a marketing plan.  When you researched your customers, you saw where they hang out.  You understand what they read, drive and where they are likely to live.  Now all you need to do is identify how to get your message in front of them as timely and specifically as possible.

 

Getting your message out

In today’s world there are two kinds of marketing: offline and online.  Offline marketing is things like business cards, signs, billboards, ads in magazines, flyers, etc.  Online marketing starts with your webpage and then branches out to social media, directories, blogs, ads, etc.

Don’t get overwhelmed.  Simply ask yourself.  “Based on my research are my customers likely to get online or are they likely to congregate in a specific location.”  Then, choose one.

If they congregate in a specific location, put ads there, make your presence known, and offer them the opportunity to know about your product.  You may be able to partner with the owner of the location or even buy ads.  I was recently in a mall and noticed that the tables had ads displayed under the glass on the table.  In another location, they posted magnetic signs for local businesses on the walls.  Another location had TV’s that displayed simple ads from local businesses.  Just do what you need to do to get the message where they are.  Think outside the box and set a plan of action that goes beyond the next ad sales guy that comes by.

Quick point of clarification: I am not against ad sales people.  I just want you to have a clear understanding about your customer so you can know where best to place your ad.  If the magazine will work for your customer, use it, but be wise about where you spend your dollars.

 

Marketing in the digital age

When we talk about online marketing, you have probably heard the term Search Engine Optimization, or SEO.  It is a fancy word that means you make sure your webpage will show up online when people search for your business.  It is not hard and this is not an article about SEO, but let me give you a quick walk through of the basics.

To start with you must understand what your customers search for when they go online to find a business like yours.  For instance if you own a beauty salon your customers may search for “beauty salon” or “best beauty salon” or “beauty salon my city” “beauty salon coupons” or  even “hairstyles” or “hair trends.”  If you don’t know how to do this kind of research you can hire a professional marketer to help, look it up online or check out our training on Google products which includes a section on keyword research.

On your webpage you want to say specifically what you do and make sure you include the keywords your customers may be searching.  Don’t try to be cute with your words, be specific and focus on what you do for the customer: the results.  You want to have your services listed out with a few paragraphs describing what you do.  You want to have an ‘about’ page that describes the way you help your customer.

One thing I always suggest is to have a blog.  It is pretty simple to do.  Just give relevant information to your customers on a regular basis.  This lets search engines know that you are a real business and actually want to help your customers. It also keeps search engines noticing your page since it has new content on it.

Outside of your webpage, social media and directories is the next level.  You want them all to have the same address, phone number, etc.  Use pictures and keep the branding consistent across all platforms. (Here is a free training webinar for setting up directories.  Here are some previous posts about social media from a Christian perspective.)

The whole purpose of having a webpage is to have a single location where your customers can find your business.  The more places online that talk about your business, the more search engines see you as relevant to your customers.  If you have directories, social media and all those things, you have increased your relevance in search engines. (You also want to make sure it can be read on a cell phone, called mobile optimized.)

Once you have your website set up, you want to go back to your research.  Get on web pages that your customers visit.  Ask about placing ads on blogs, forums, online magazines, and other webpages that are relevant to your customers.  You can even place ads on social media, like Facebook and with search engines like Google.  It takes time, so you may want to hire a pro to help you.  Here is a marketing pro we found that is Christian and reasonably priced.

 

Evaluate EVERYTHING

You want to know where your hard earned dollars are going.  All marketing can be tracked, so don’t let some ad sales guy tell you otherwise.  Sadly, I have seen much wasted money.  For instance, I live in a condo with very little grass.  There are over 300 units.  I saw that we had an ad for lawn care in our mail boxes even though we have a single lawn care company.  That business spent money on over 300 printed ads and 300 stamps, not to mention how much it cost to create the ads and buy the mailing list.  It was all wasted because they did not focus their efforts and know where their ads were going.

Keep track of every place customers are coming from: online or offline.  You can use a simple spread sheet, or just a good notebook with tabs so you can see where customers come from.  If you do a lot of digital marketing, there are many tracking tools you can use.  Most online ad platforms have integrated tracking built into their systems.

 

 

Conclusion

Having a plan of action for your marketing helps you keep from being swayed by the next marketing craze.  Sure, you can try new opportunities, but only if they fit your customer and your goals in marketing.  Check your return on investment, ROI, for every marketing dollar you spend.  Then, you will have a well-oiled marketing machine to help your business grow.

Keep in mind you want to have a marketing plan going when business is doing well.  If you wait until business slows down, you are too late.  Keep your momentum and keep your focus.  Remember, marketing is about helping the most people by making sure they know about your business.

Again, if you need help developing a plan for your business sign up for our membership program where you can ask questions and get live training for pennies a day.

Marketing strategy goes where your customers are so you can help them. #Christianbusiness #ChristianEntrepreneur Click To Tweet

marketing how to for Christian entrepreneursA how-to guide to the basics of marketing

Christian entrepreneurs need to have a good foundational understanding of their marketing.  In this two part series, we are going to cover the basics.

Make sure you read our previous article on what marketing is.  We redefined marketing as offering the greatest products and making sure your ideal customers know about it.

 

Ideal customers

The first component in marketing is not your product or your business, it’s your customers.  In essence, the better you understand your ideal customer, the better you can talk to them.  Just think about the difference in the way you talk to your grandmother, mother, friends and spouse.  Different people relate to different words.  Plus, your relationship to those people identifies how you talk to them.

When it comes to customers, you want to help them.  To help them you must understand them.  What do they like?  What kind of house do they live in?  What kind of cars do they drive?  If you can understand where they shop, what they read, what music they listen to that can all become part of your communication with them.

If you want to know where to start, check out our article on a free tool to help you understand your ideal customer.

Once you understand your customer better, make an avatar.  In other words, I want you to create a picture of that person so well in your head, it is as if they are a real person.  If you have someone who is exactly the right fit, use that person and interview them.  (Of course, offer them some incentive or bonus for their participation.)

Create a name for the person.  Find a picture online that represents that person.  Write up a short bio for that person.  Make sure everyone in your office has that picture of the ideal customer in their head each time they think about your product or service.

Once you have that person firmly in your head, pray for him/her.  Begin praying for your ideal customers.  You can even go through your customer list and pray for previous customers by name.  When you begin to pray for people, your heart is moved to notice them better and want to help them. Plus, God may just give you some wisdom about your business.

 

Ideal conversation

Marketing is simply a conversation.  You have a business that can help others and you want them to know about it and like it.

Let’s use a simple example of a movie.  If you go to your best friend you can easily talk to them about the movie you just watched.  You can even convince them to see it with you.  If you talk to a stranger, it is a bit harder to communicate to that person because you don’t quite know what they like.

When you begin to understand your customers, you can use words they relate to.  If I was trying to talk about a car to guys I may use words like “power” and “speed.”  If I was talking to women about a car, I may use “safe” and “comfortable.”  Not to put people in a box or anything, depending on my ideal customer, those statements may be reversed.

Marketing is simply understanding our customer and communicating with them.#Christianbusiness #ChristianEntrepreneur Click To Tweet

I heard it said best this way, “Marketing is entering the conversation your customer is already having in their head.”  If you can identify what keeps them up at night and what they would pay to solve that problem, you have a great understanding of how to market to them.

Do your research to understand them, go to forums, look at reviews on similar products on Amazon, or search for blogs that relate to that specific customer.  Notice the colors, wording, length and even what other products/services they are trying to sell that person.

Quick note: Your product may be great for 100’s of people or 1000’s of people, but until you can sell it to that specific one person you will never be a success.  Focus on one ideal customer and get your marketing moving.  Later you can develop a second tier customer.  The key is FOCUS.

 

Ideal market

The ideal market involves many moving parts.  You must understand what others are selling your customers.  You must understand your competition.  You must know the ins and outs of your industry so well that you become the ‘go to’ company for what you produce.

You can do lots of research in this category, but don’t get distracted.  Keep in mind your ONE ideal customer.  Look at your competition and look at what you do better for your customer.  Look at reviews to see what others are saying they want in your industry.  Read information from real people.  With the digital age we live in, you can see reviews and comments from your ideal customer everywhere.

Once you know your market, you know what makes you different.  You can identify a USP, unique selling point.  Take what makes you different, communicate that to your ideal customer in a way that they can relate to and understand.  That is marketing in a nutshell.

 

Conclusion

In our next article, we will talk about setting up a basic marketing plan.  We will talk about where to put your message and how to best communicate with your ideal customer.

Christians are action takers.  We want to grow our business and understand it takes work.  Below are three actions you can take based on the article above.

  1. Write a bio for your ideal customer.  Get a picture (royalty free) and give them a name (Annie Car Buyer, Bob HomeOwner).  Make it memorable.  Print out this bio and ask your employees and leadership if they agree with the ideal customer.  (Actually, you should include them in the entire process.)
  2. Come up with 10 key points that your customers care about.  Look for patterns in your research.  Find attitudes that speak to them: safe, fast, etc.  Find specific fears they have and problems you solve with your business.
  3. Write down 2-3 key points about your business that differentiates you from your competition.  Don’t bash others, but edify your customers with what you do.   Keep everything positive and focus on RESULTS over benefits.

You have your work cut out for you, but if you take this exercise seriously, you will have a great beginning to a solid marketing system in your business.  It will help you grow your business in tight times or plentiful.  You can handle all the twists and turns of business when you are prepared and take everything to God in prayer.

If you need specific help, consider contacting a Christian marketing business coach or join our membership where you can ask your questions on our live online training webinars each month.  It is less than a dollar a day!!

Be blessed and be a blessing.

free tools to understand your customers

Christian business owners should understand their customers so well, they know where they shop, eat and hang out. Do you know your customers that well?

Today, I am going to introduce you to an online tool that will give you lot of insights into your local customers quickly, easily and free.

 

What is MyBestSegments?

MyBestSegments is a part of Nielsen research.  MyBestSegments uses zip codes to give insights into your customers and tells a little bit about their lifestyles.  One of the point on their page says, “Reveal your customer’s lifestyle and behaviors to create a clear comprehensive picture of their likes and dislikes.”

Basically, they have done research across the nation, the United States.  They have noticed certain patterns of people that congregate in certain locations.  If you can understand the general attitude and habits of the people in your local community, you can better talk to them about their needs.  Then, if you can help them, you have a moral obligation to tell them about your business.

 

How to use MyBestSegments

Start at the home page and click on “Zip Code Look-up” at the top.  That will bring you to a page to input the zip code.

Once you input the zip code, general data will show up.  To the left, you will see the common ‘segments’ who live in your area.  These are general groupings of the types of people most likely to live in your current area.

free tools to understand your customers

 

To the right you see a map and below the map you will see a scrolling data charts.  They will show you household income, age levels, ethnicity, and even the make up of families, i.e. with or without children.

After making notations about the basic information, click on one of your segments. It will bring you to a page that defines the general characteristics of that type of person.  It starts with a general description of those people, but I want you to focus on the “Lifestyle and Media Traits.” (You will want to do this for each of the segments in your local area.)

 

free tools to understand your customers

 

This section has invaluable knowledge.  It will tell you where they shop, what they do, what they read, what they watch on tv and even what they drive.  You may wonder why this is important, but let me share a simple example.

Let’s say that you find out that all of your segments are likely to drive a hybrid or flex fuel car.  That will give you the insights that your population is ‘green’ conscious.  You can attend green events, collaborate with green companies and make sure you point out all of the efforts your company has made to be green.  You even want to consider posting blogs posts and social media about green living and tips on being green and helping the environment.

 

Conclusion

Understanding the habits of your customers gives you insights about what is important to them.  These little things connect your business to your target audience.  It builds bridges so that people are likely to share information about your business with their friends (who are like them according to the research you did).  Those friends are more likely to do business with you because they were referred by a friend and they can relate to your business.

The more you understand about your customers, the better you can communicate to them.  We all have little nuances in how we communicate and if you can learn to ‘speak the language’ of your target audience, you will connect to them, grow your business and impact the Kingdom of God.

The better you communicate to your customers, the better you can make an impact in their lives. Click To Tweet