Tag Archives: marketing

You’re in the Business of Happy


It doesn’t matter what business you’re in; your number one goal should be to make customers happy. Happiness brings customers back again and again. It makes business relationships easier and makes your work more meaningful. It gets people to talk about your product or service with others.

In turn, it means higher profits for you and satisfied customers who are grateful to you for making their jobs easier, more efficient, and profitable.

It sounds so simple and straight forward. But how do you know if you are doing a good job at making your customers happy?

For large corporations, you can measure happiness through customer satisfaction surveys, CSAT (customer satisfaction) scores and Net Promoter Scores (NPS). You can also monitor customer sentiment on social media, via your customer service team, or online user forums.

But for small businesses, especially if you are selling a service, these best practices can be costly and require resources that you just don’t have right now.

Instead, the fastest way to measure if you’re customers happy, other than repeat business, is through word of mouth.

As a freelancer, my business is 100% reliant on my clients being happy with my work for them. The best leads I get, no matter what other marketing initiatives I am working on, come from my happiest customers — simply passing my name along to a colleague.

Positive word of mouth is paramount. If you have to prioritize one marketing initiative above all else while you boot up your business, start there.

It costs a lot less than investing in social media and a beautiful website. Yes, you need a web presence but it doesn’t have to be perfect to start making money. And you can grow a lot faster as a small services business if you just make your existing customers happy.

So, if you are getting calls from your customers’ contacts, you know you’re doing something right. If not, it’s time to start asking yourself and your customers (an old school phone call or face to face meeting will do the trick) what’s up?

If they are happy but not passing your name along, you can be so bold as to ask them to do so. Just be sure to reward them in some way for their efforts. A Starbucks gift card, thank you note, or lunch will all do the trick. It doesn’t have to be fancy or cost a lot.

If they’re not happy, it’s time to rethink how you run your business. Can you scale down services to focus on what you do best? Can you do more to make your customers feel valued? Again, simple and scrappy solutions to determine how to fix them problem are fine in the beginning.

Nothing is perfect when you first launch a business. But you’ll be a lot happier, and less stressed, if you focus on what’s most important. After all, “happiness is a by-product of an effort to make someone else happy.” — Gretta Palmer




Tip for New Freelancers: Be a Niche Detective

Last week, I had coffee with a friend who is looking to start her own web analytics consulting business. In addition to giving her operational advice about what tools she’ll need to get started, I emphasized the need to find her niche.creating your own vision

She asked me what the top three things she could focus on to serve clients in the web analytics space. Unfortunately, there is no easy answer in my opinion. That’s because it all depends on the type of business, what tools a company has (or is lacking) and what customers they are serving.

It also depends on where my friend’s expertise lies and how she will differentiate her skills from those of other web analytics consultants.

So, here’s what I told her to focus on to get started:

    • Be a niche detective. Starting a freelance business is like solving a mystery. You need to unravel the clues as to where your skills will be most useful and which customers will demand the most of your time and expertise. So, I told my friend to go out and have coffee with everyone and anyone she considers to be a possible client or industry expert. Each meeting will give her insights to lead her closer to the niche to which she is most suited.
    • Focus on your preferred niche. It’s fine to say that you should follow the path to the money. Unfortunately, as a freelancer, you must also find projects that you enjoy doing the most. That’s because you will be more likely to succeed using the skills and expertise that you enjoy. And that will ultimately lead to getting more and more work in the future through satisfied customers and positive word of mouth.
  • Be picky. I read this article from The Next Web last week about why freelancers need to be picky about clients and projects. I couldn’t agree more. It doesn’t mean that you should turn down a lot of projects early on. But once you have gathered some experience and confidence in the skills you wish to sell, it’s important not to burn yourself out or spin your wheels working on projects that take you away from the work that you enjoy doing.

Are you a freelancer or consultant working in a very specific niche? Do you agree? Please share your thoughts below.

How Canadian startups can help each other to grow traffic and sales

In the past 6 months, I’ve met with a lot of Canadian technology and digital media startups – either to interview them for a blog, chat with them at a conferenceseedlings growing , or figure out how I can help them with their B2B marketing or media sales strategy efforts.

One of the most common questions I get from these meetings is “how can I grow my business/sales/traffic on a limited budget?” Besides the obvious tools and tactics that you might already know about (i.e. SEO, PPC advertising, blogs, social media, etc.), there is one resource that I think that a lot of small Canadian digital media startups should be tapping into more often – each other. Perhaps it’s a little idealistic, but I do believe that the more we work together as small businesses, the more we will grow the opportunities for one another.

Because I am constantly meeting with people, I often uncover ways that my colleagues and new connections might be able to help each other out. I get a lot of satisfaction out of making those introductions because they make a lot of strategic sense. Most small web-based businesses are in the same boat when it comes to growing on a limited budget. So, why not identify ways to partner with each other in order to tap into each other’s target customers (when they are complimentary) and strengths (when we can share insights, expertise or a service).

Here are some suggested ways to grow traffic while working with other startups:

  • Revenue Sharing or Affiliate programs: Since most small businesses have limited marketing budgets, why not negotiate with other small businesses to either do a revenue sharing or affiliate partnership (i.e. pay them a % commission) for driving sales to your site?
  • Link sharing: Develop an agreement to share links and content from each others’ sites to drive-up SEO rankings.
  • Guest blogs and product reviews: If another company knows a lot about a topic that is of interest to your target audience/customers, why not have them write a guest post on your blog and allow them to link it back to their site (negotiate so that you can do the same on their site). Or, have them write a review of your product on their website.
  • E-mail lists: If you both have significant e-mail opt-in lists, why not do a barter to share a sponsored message to each others’ list with a special offer or promotion on your website?
  • Social media: This one is simple, arrange to share links to each others’ site via your communities. Perhaps you can give away your partners’ product or a discount via your social networks.
  • Events: If you’re hosting a customer event, invite your business partners to offer prizes or promotions at the event.

If you have other suggestions on ways that small businesses can help each other to grow, I’d love to hear about them.

Image source: iStockPhoto.com