5 dangers of email blasting in 2021

When we stopped email blasting our open rates increased by over 85%​ Email blasting everyone the same message once a month really isn’t an effective …

5 dangers of email blasting in 2021

Virtual Booth: An Interview With Mark Henning

Every now and then, we focus on companies or products that we think will make the small business journey a little easier. Today we are going to focus on something called Virtual Booth. It’s created by Simple Booth and has been designed to make online events more fun and more engaging.

How does it work?

It’s a virtual photo app that you can create from the Simple Booth Dashboard and then share with anyone. If you have a virtual event, you can send a link, a button or a QR code to start the photo experience. Attendees to the event take a photo and then customise it with a background or overlays, then add stickers that have been preselected by the host of the event.

These photos can be used on social media to drive a buzz around your event. Obviously, they can also be used to build engagement for business on social media.

In recent times, online meetings and events have, by necessity, increased in number. Virtual Booth adds to the value you can give attendees and people who engage with your business online.

We took some time out to speak to Mark Henning, CEO and co-founder of Simple Booth.

QTell us a little bit about Virtual Booth and what it does. 

Virtual Booth is an intuitive way to engage an audience to take fun photos for virtual events, marketing campaigns, and more. It’s like your own digital photo app that can be shared as a link, button, or QR code. When a participant opens it, they can take a photo right there, customize it with your selected creative filters, backgrounds and stickers, and then share it with your hashtag.

Q. What problem does this solve for businesses?

It solves three problems for businesses. 

First, for event marketers, how do I generate content that shows our event was a success? When people take photos at your event, Virtual Booth is an easy way to demonstrate they were engaged, which is valuable to both internal stakeholders and to promote future events. Second, how do I add experiential elements to engage attendees? When you cannot interact in-person, your options are much more limited. Event planners need digital solutions like Virtual Booth in their toolbox. Third, and most fundamentally, Virtual Booth is a new way for any business to get social traction with branded photos. Instead of asking people to take a photo and hoping they share it with your hashtag, you can now control the process.

Q. Tell us about the journey. Where did the idea come from?

When the event industry came to a standstill in March, we brought our team together to brainstorm ideas. We asked, how can we make the photo booth experience translate into something that makes sense right now and adds value for the industry?

By the end of the meeting, a web-based photo experience stood at the top of the list. It took several months to build out the idea into a compelling product, complete with brandable elements and visual effects that make it attractive to use.

We wouldn’t have created Virtual Booth if it weren’t for current events. But now that we have it, we see that the use cases for it are endless.

Q. Do you have any general tips for anyone holding an online event?

If you are planning a virtual event, I would encourage you to think of it as a new medium. Trying to force a virtual event into the same look and feel of an in-person event, such as by simulating 3D convention centers or trade shows, can come off as tacky to savvy internet users. Think outside the box and explore what a good digital experience is, not just what in-person events used to be like.

Don’t worry, soon enough, in-person events will be back. We don’t have to be overly nostalgic quite yet!

Q. How have online events changed in the last six months?

Online events have moved from being a quick patch to a permanent part of the event landscape. There are thousands of startups focused on virtual events now, and investor money has poured into them.

Now that there are established frameworks to hosting virtual events, it will be much easier to include them in the event mix. Event planners don’t have to start from scratch every time. Events can have both an in-person and virtual component going forward, which will expand how many people can be part of it, which is beneficial for both planners and attendees.

Thanks to Mark for the interview.

The 3 Biggest Mistakes Entrepreneurs Make

This post previously appeared on insiginiaseo.com.

We all know it’s not easy being an entrepreneur. The hours are long and the pay (at least until you’re in real profit territory) is measly. However, as long as you don’t make silly mistakes and you enter every situation with a keen and focused mind, you will get there. If you don’t know what mistakes you’re trying to avoid, you’re in serious trouble. Forewarned is forearmed, after all. Take a look at the following and make a note of these bumps in the road. They could be the difference between a thriving business and another statistic.

1.) Not Networking

Before we get into this one, remember that networking doesn’t mean just attending huge events where business cards are thrown around like confetti. Networking is something that you can do over the phone, or at a chance meeting with a potential prospect.

Networking helps keep your venture visible, and it gives people a feel for who you are and why they should do business with you. So wherever you are in the first few years of your business, you should be visible and talking about the business and how it helps people. If you’re not comfortable with introducing yourself to people and making serious small talk, find a partner who is. Business is about networking. You need to do it.

2.) Being Unreliable

This seems like the most obvious thing in the world to get right, but so many entrepreneurs make a mistake in this area, especially in the early days of a business when pressure can be at its worst. Your customers and clients are the most important people in the world. And that’s that.

If there is even the smallest chance that you may not be able to fulfill an order, don’t take the order. If you can’t make a client meeting, send someone else. And if you are overwhelmed, slow down.

Ask anyone who’s dealt with entrepreneurs before what the worst part of it is and they’ll tell you that an entrepreneur who can’t keep her word is a pain in the neck. And if a client feels let down, they’ll tell everyone they know about it. That’s a great way to make a business fail. Your word is your bond. Clients expect to use someone who is reliable.

3.) Listening to everyone

Every successful entrepreneur will tell you about the time they listened to bad advice. There will be a number of people who are trying to pass on advice to you if you’re just starting out. Some of it will be useful, but a lot of it will be detrimental and will affect your progress.

Most people mean well, and many will have ‘been around the block’, but if it feels like the advice just doesn’t ring true for you, ignore it. The best piece of advice you will ever get from anyone when it comes to being an entrepreneur is to‘follow your instincts’. Using instinct is what gets you to the top.

Think about the above three areas and see if you can keep them in mind if you are faced with a problem or a ‘crossroads’ in business. And remember that being an entrepreneur only gets easy when you’ve been doing it for a while. Until then, you need to be careful, have integrity, and be willing to network.

The One Question That Will Boost Your Sales

The biggest issue with SMEs right now is their Web presence.

Remember about five years ago, when people were going crazy with blogging and websites, talking about how they were the ‘shop front’ or public face of the company, and that they had to be full of great stuff that helped consumers and ‘built’ your brand?

What happened?

People got lazy. A million people (and more) started a business blog. Then that same group of people stopped blogging after a couple of months because they couldn’t see it going anywhere. Millions more started Facebook accounts and Twitter feeds and everything else, all to try and keep that ‘shop front’ up and running, and to build that brand.

They stopped too. Or they started to fill those feeds with updates on going shopping or pictures of funny cats.

Can I help you?

What’s the first question we ask a potential customer if they walk into our selling space, whether it’s an office or a store?

It’s: can I help you?

It’s the first question that makes sense to both the business and the customer, because what else is a business there to do but help? It’s why we exist. At the very basic level, if we can’t help with a solution to a problem, people are not going to be interested in us. That problem could be how to organise a home, how to choose the best bouquet for someone special, or even how to ensure that someone eats well that evening without having to cook.

But so many SMEs are not helping their prospects. They get traffic to their websites all the time, but people show up, look through that legendary shop window, and don’t see any ‘help’. All they see is a business saying ‘me, me, me…’ all the time.

It’s time we started helping again. A business can only add value when it adds value. But I don’t see a lot of that around at the moment. I see businesses talking about themselves, why they’re different, and the long and impressive history they have.

Truth is, no one cares.

All your customer or client will ever care about is what you can do for them. How you can help.

So help. Make your website a resource. A guide. Make it a beacon along the way, that your clients can find, and use to help them meet their own goals and achieve their own dreams.

Throw a ton of free stuff at them. Fire off regular blog posts that help and reassure.

Empower your client.

Help them.

It’s time to get our Web presence back to what it should be. A helpful, empowering symbol of supreme customer service, as well as a powerful sales tool.

Once more then, with feeling…

Can I help you?

How To Master Cold Calling Today

I have recently upped my telemarketing efforts, and it has been a particularly pleasing experience. I’ve found out a few truths about telemarketing, along with some cold calling techniques, that have now given me a strong focus on how to improve results and also improve my overall approach to marketing in general.

Last week I achieved two sales from probably five hours of telemarketing. I hesitate to call it telesales because I generally avoid the full sales approach. That is not to say that, as time goes on, I won’t see the value in employing people to literally sell heavily on the phones.

I spoke to someone this week and we both agreed the telephone as a sales and marketing instrument is far from dead. I am effectively using cold calling techniques when I pick up the phone to do what I do, but there are two clear benefits that make this cold calling attractive to me right now:

  • I can make contact with a large number of prospects, quickly
  • I can talk to them, which allows for real, personal communication

So I like cold calling, if we are going to call it that.

I’ve put together some tips and thoughts on cold calling techniques, stuff I’ve learned over the last few days. Already this is all becoming very apparent to me. Call it insight if you will. Whatever it is, all of the following is true.

Don’t go in hard with cold calling

This is the basis to good cold calling techniques. While you shouldn’t act like a wet blanket, your main aim should be to develop a conversation. Remember that cold calling is an automatic disruption of someone’s day. Be conversational and genuine. Don’t be a salesperson. They died out with the dinosaurs. Be a professional who wants to introduce a professional product or service.

Relax. What you do is amazing. It will find a buyer. So don’t sell it to death. Just talk about it and find your way to the sale naturally.

You will never be able to force a sale. So don’t try.

Use your voice as a cold calling weapon

Your voice is a precision tool. A weapon if you will. It should be part of your raft of successful cold calling techniques. Vary it’s tone and pitch. Slow it down and speed it up. Speak quietly now and then.

I met an accountant the other day who talked just like accountants are supposed to talk. Slow and monotonous. I know, obviously, that not all accountants talk in this way, but if they did they’d be the worst in the world at cold calling.

The prospect expects a loud, fake, formulaic, rushed torrent of insincerity. Change your voice regularly, make them pleasantly surprised.

Key point: 80% of the response a prospect gives is down to the voice you present with, not the words you use, which account for just 20%.

We will look at some other aspects of cold calling techniques soon. The practise is not dying, and people still like to talk.

So get on that phone and talk, professionally, about your amazing product or service. Someone out there is interested in what you do.

Go find them.

Do You Have A Personal Brand?

You can spend hundreds of thousands of whatever currency you operate in on branding your company. But how much of your resources do you dedicate to your own personal branding?

You have a personal brand. Everyone around you has a personal brand. the millions of people who use LinkedIn and Facebook and all those other channels daily are trying desperately to improve their personal brand. 

But most of us are not looking at ourselves closely enough. Unless we are fully aware of our actions and interactions we may well find that we are harming our personal brand every day. And it needs protecting.

Your personal branding in action

Every time you fail to turn in a project on time, you make a small level of impact upon your client. It is almost imperceptible at times, but it is there. Your client may generally feel that it is ‘no big deal’ that a project was late, but at some point in the future, she will remember that it was late.

If you run a company and you don’t deliver the service that you promised you would, it will affect the client. They may well want to buy more from you, but if someone comes along with a better promise next time, they will listen.

If you imagine that you are a walking advert for your brand, it soon becomes clear that everything you say and do is somehow going to influence others.

Get that project done in time. Deliver the goods when you say you will. Stay calm and unruffled when delivering a presentation. It all adds up.

Make personal branding work for you

Turn up on time. Do what you have said you will do, time and time again. get that product or service completed and delivered a day early.

People really take note of how you perform. They always have. The more you surprise them or beat expectations, the more people will turn to you, stick with you, and tell others about you.

If you are creating a blog post, put the effort in. Or pay a professional. Every word you publish online will add a little or take a little from your personal brand.

If you are simply making a phonecall to a prospect or a lead, be polite and courteous. 

If you are saying ‘good morning’ to a colleague, be conscious. Are you giving them the right impression?

Your personal brand is interconnected with every aspect of your success. All day, and all night.

Make it work for you.

How To Build Sales Over The Next Six Months

If you want to increase the amount of sales you make, there are four sound methods that will help to massively boost your overall sales performance. The methods outlined below are not necessarily quick fixes, but they work on building confidence in your product, and building your client list over time. They also work for teams, managers and leaders. And of course, the cold call warriors too.

Build a discovery list

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If you’re in a high pressure environment, this is not something you can do easily. However, if you’re serious about building sales over time, with quality clients, spend less time selling and more time discovering.

First up, basic validation of prospects. After a prospect converts on your website, and they have submitted their email address and therefore become a lead, this is where you can spend time either qualifying them or disqualifying them as prospects. And this is where the discovery approach makes most sense. Spending time at this stage discovering as much as you can about them before you even try to sell is an absolute must.

Use their email address to help you find out where they work and to locate their website. After a good and thorough period of research of their website, you should be able to work out whether or not their needs can be met by your product or service. You’ll also be able to understand the history of the company.

Assuming you feel you can help them, add them to a Discovery list. Keep doing this until you have a list of companies that you know you can help. You’ll also know about pain points, because you’ve spent some time understanding where they come from, and what they need as a company to grow.

The Discovery List is not a traditional lead list. Your first call is all about thanking them for downloading your report or giving you their email. It’s about asking them questions about their latest activity on your site and in their own business. It’s about not even talking about your product. Build a relationship in which they know you may have something that can help them. Then tell them you look forward to talking to them again. Ask if it is okay if you contact them again in the future if there is an article or video you think may help them.

And then that’s it.

The Discovery List contains long-term leads that you anticipate will take months to convert. Be good with that and take that approach forward.

If you discover and nurture just ten large leads in this way, imagine the ROI in the months ahead.

Use The Big G

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Google contains one of the very best ways to boost your sales. If you’re looking for information about any lead, you have a high chance of finding what you want just through Google search.

Even if you don’t know the name of the person you are hoping will become a lead, you can usually find out more about them by Googling their company. Most websites have details of key staff in a company. As soon as you find details about decision makers, Google their names and at some point you will find a way into the company.

A short cut is to literally type in ‘CEO of (company name)’ or ‘Managing Director of (company name)’.

Lead the pack

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One of the biggest reasons B2B leaders hire services and buy products is because they are impressed with them. If you want to be hired or bought from, build up that presence online that tells people ‘this is someone who knows what they are doing’.

Take the time and put in the effort to develop your thoughts and ideas online. If you visit online forums where you can help people and take part in those discussions, you are already on the way to ‘thought leadership‘.

Over time, you will be seen as someone to come to for advice in your area of expertise. If you push this out across all your social media channels and you participate in business communities online, people will think of you and your brand when they’re ready to buy.

Use LinkedIn

With B2B prospects, you can’t go wrong with LinkedIn. Even if you don’t subscribe to Premium, you can still find out a lot of information about prospects by doing a basic search on the platform.

The next time you’re looking at a cold lead, search for them on LinkedIn. Even the weakest profiles have a lot of information on the prospect. It pays to learn more about them and find an angle before you call.

If you spend time getting familiar with LinkedIn and how you can use it to find leads, your ‘muscle’ in this area will grow. Soon, you’ll be fine-tuning it, homing in on qualified leads faster and more effectively. You’ll be part of Groups, finding even more prospects there. You’ll be crafting emails and messages that speak directly to the people who can buy and are in need of your product.

So there we go. The four ideas above are not to be taken lightly. They need discipline and focus. If you waver from daily practice of the above you’ll only slow down.

Stop Selling. Start Building

Why do people use social media? From Twitter to Facebook, there is only one reason:

To express themselves.

Even on LinkedIn, which is a so-called ‘professional social media site’ you see a lot more happening on the personal profiles than you do on the company pages. People are people, and they can’t stop being people. So they express themselves, develop their personalities and show their ‘difference’ through social media.

But how can you market to that?

It’s actually quite simple. Once you know that people are happy to be themselves on social media, you can adapt your marketing to them. You can talk to them.

Sometimes, we forget that social media is meant to be social. This kills our business, slowly. We forget that people use social media to express themselves, display their interests and passions, and establish who they ‘are’. This means they’re not the slightest bit interested in your latest service feature, or the new product you’ve got lined up.

Instead, in the back of their minds as they see your latest update that is supposed to be ‘social’ but is little more than a 140 character sales pitch, they’re thinking:

This is spam. What is in it for me?

You see, the most important person on social media is the user. The profile conveys their uniqueness, and their updates strengthen their difference. Each user is actively telling you what makes them happy, what they want in their life, and how they have got to where they are.

Each user is saying: talk to me, not my wallet.

Heywanna be my friend?

In the real world, if you meet someone new and you are wondering if they could be a good friend or just an acquaintance, what checklist do you use?

  1. Have they similar interests to me?
  2. Are they easy to understand/relate to?
  3. Are they likeable?
  4. Could they help me in any way (tangible or otherwise)?

And that’s the checklist people use on social media. We’re not talking about the ‘empty connections’ that we all make when we’re trying to fill up our follower list on Twitter (don’t say you don’t do this, we all have at least once), but instead the connections that we want to check in on, and perhaps even meet.

If you satisfy the checklist criteria outlined above, people will link up with you. They will listen to what you have to say.

And when you can help them (item 4 on the checklist) they’ll let you know.

Success on social media is never about quantity, but instead about quality. That’s why Seth Godin, one of the most influential marketers in the world, doesn’t use Twitter (he uses a placeholder, or at least he did the last time I checked). He has said that he can’t possibly ‘know’ all those people.

And he’s right.

And you know what? He actually replies personally to every email he gets. I know this because he has replied to mine.

That’s making a connection. That’s talking to someone.

Think about what you’re doing on social (including this platform). Are you actually making real relationships? Or are you trying to build a list that will come back and bite you in the nether regions at some point in the future?

If you run a business, there are only four words you need to think about on social media.

Stop selling. Start building.

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Customers And Value: Is It An Offer They Can’t Refuse?

I’ve been thinking a lot about value recently, and how we create it, or reduce it.

I’ve been trying really hard to keep in touch with customers over the last few days, because I feel that this somehow creates value for them. The service has been sold, and now they are left waiting for results. To hear from me, I think, creates value for them. It’s part of the deal.

I think value is important. And the more I look into the value I think I deliver, the more I realise that I still have work to do. All businesses do. And in these times of financial constraint, offering more value for the price a customer pays is crucial.

So how can we offer more value? What strategies can we put in place to ensure that the customer feels they have experienced good – or great – value for money?

  • One thing you can try and do is talk to your customers, ether literally or through a survey. Ask them directly about value. Ask them what aspects of your offering they enjoy or appreciate, and value the most. Then ensure you deliver on these value-points for all your customers.
  • Work on your pricing. If you set a price for your products and services that seems to offer value in the sense that the cost is sensible, and the customer perceives value after buying the products or services, then they will be willing to pay more. But if they don’t perceive value, they won’t buy anymore, even at a low cost.
  • Always show complete integrity. If you promise that your product and service will bring about a certain result or benefit, it had better do so. The more you do this; the more people will trust you, and perceive value.
  • Call them. Obviously, if you sell millions of products a year, calling each customer is difficult. But emailing them isn’t. Keep in touch and show that they weren’t just a ’sale’, and your customers will feel valued. And their value perception will increase.

Above all, remember that perception of value is perhaps more important than any other aspect of your customer relations. If they don’t feel you are bringing value to them, why should they even consider coming back?

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Which Social Network Is Best For Your Business?

When it comes to digital marketing, there are tons of different social networks to choose from, each with their own advantages and disadvantages.
To cover just a few, you have:

* Facebook
* Twitter
* Tumblr
* LinkedIn
* Instagram

And this is before you’ve even covered some of the less obvious social networks, or the networks that skirt the borders of how we define social media. These include:

* Reddit
* Snapchat
* Periscope
* Forums

So there is a lot to choose from here. How do you know where to begin?

Of course, you should be on all social media if possible, and the expression you will often hear used in this regard is ‘be everywhere’. But if you had to choose just one social network, which would it be?

Defining Your Goals and Understanding Your Audience

If you look at this in terms of pure numbers, then the answer becomes very simple. Facebook is the biggest social network and as such this is the one you should be on if you want the opportunity to potentially reach the biggest number of people. 

But as any marketer should know, numbers aren’t really what is important. What is important is targeted numbers. In other words, who are you trying to reach?

And then there are those other factors like is now the right time to reach that user? And are you reaching them in the correct way?

To answer these questions you need to define who your target audience is and how best to reach them.

For instance, did you know that Pinterest is the social media site with the biggest proportion of female users? What’s more, it lends itself particularly well to creative topics and to aesthetic and visual subjects.

So in other words, if you have a bakery shop, then you might well find that Pinterest is the right place for you. For a B2B company selling business insurance though, you’re likely not going to have as much luck on Pinterest (how do you make this visual and artistic?). There are ways, but it’s not going to be as easy and there isn’t as much potential here.

So to find your best social network, you need to ask yourself where your audience is going to be and what the best way to communicate what you’re offering is. If you can answer these two questions then you can find your route to market.