June 2016 - Small business consultant, Kara Lambert is insightful and expert.

Monthly Archives: June 2016

asking for a review

I had an interesting discussion with a client of mine this week. They openly admitted that they needed to ask for more reviews. So, in true Kara style it had me wondering why we don’t ask for reviews.

Fear of rejection

What if they say I didn’t do a good job or they didn’t like it? Well, how’s about starting with the people you know like your work, your repeat customers. You know they  do like what you do – so start there.

What if they say no, they won’t do it? Well that’s ok too. You never had a review from them before, so them saying no is not a change. It doesn’t mean that they don’t like you (especially if you start with your repeat customers), perhaps they aren’t comfortable having their choices out on public display, perhaps they want to keep you as their little secret. That’s fine – you never had a review from them anyway so you’re not losing anything.

Fear of a bad review

“The only thing worse than being talked about is not being talked about.” – Oscar Wilde

Even a bad review gives you an opportunity. They give you the chance to show your customer service skills, to answer their concerns (I bet they’re not alone), & to show you do care. I will add the caveat that you shouldn’t get into an argument with them. Even just acknowledging a grievance can be enough for some – some people just want to feel ‘heard’.

I have to add here that we humans find it easier to lash out at a business that we really don’t know or we don’t know the face behind it. If you have a good presence, then you’re really not likely to receive bad reviews, because it’s in our nature to be kind. (Except trolls, they’re just in it for the 5 minutes of fame, delete them)

I’m embarrassed to ask

So has it been a while since you last had contact, then say that – ‘I realise it has been a while but…’

What if… ok, so I addressed most of those above. I can’t make you ask for a review, but by not asking you (and future clients) will never know what your business is like and you won’t benefit.

I’m not good at writing/calling. Then keep it simple. Add a sentence to the end of your newsletter, on your Facebook posts, you have to practice the ‘ask’. You’ll find a way that sits well with you.

Won’t I look like I’m bragging

Sure, some people might think that – but isn’t it wonderful that you have so many happy clients willing to share their love of you, your business, & your product? How many more people do you think it will help by seeing  their feedback? Isn’t it great that future clients have a wealth of past experiences to read and to answer their questions or concerns before they even approach you? Rack them up I say!

So my overarching advice goes back to:
if you don’t ask you don’t receive
-you never had the review to start with, so you’re not losing anything
-no doesn’t always mean never, it can mean not now or not that way
-if you don’t blow your own trumpet no one will.

Now before I go, I did write a post a while ago about how to make the most out of your reviews and which reviews work best. So, if you’ve now got the reviews (or you have some) head over and find out how to really work those golden nuggets.

So, if you have read my blogs, worked with me, attended a workshop, used one of my downloads, chatted with me about your business – I want to hear from you. Good, bad, or indifferent – any which way it helps me & others. you can comment below, leave a post on my Facebook page, or send me an email (just make sure you include a photo of yourself & a link to your business so I can give you a shout out).

How to use storytelling for sales growth

Storytelling is the current ‘thing’ for business. Not that there is actually anything new about it. Just think of door to door salesmen and you’ll get the picture. I’m seeing a lot around about using it to talk about your business, to talk about your ‘why’, but not so much about using storytelling for sales.

So what made me think about storytelling for sales?

So I run two businesses, this one and a product based business. The product based business ticks along, but in the main I keep it going because it has a good Facebook & Pinterest following where I can test things for this business. So, I noticed that my product posts were falling a little flat. I was still using the same light, conversational tone – why wasn’t it working? Then a friend approached me with the same problem (and she has a much larger page). Now there IS a problem. She was getting great reach & engagement on her Facebook posts when she spoke about stuff OTHER than her products, but when it came to the sales posts – crickets.

So I took a look at what worked on our pages (and what didn’t) and realised that the difference was storytelling. We tell stories when we’re not selling. In fact, we’re both damn good at telling stories when we’re not selling. So I wondered, what about storytelling in sales – how could we make it work?

So why does storytelling work?

If you’ve been reading my blog for a while you would know that I like to know the deeper ‘why’ & if it can go back to something about human psychology even better. (Look you don’t study the stuff for 3 years and then spend another 5 where it’s the main focus of your day job without it being a part of your ‘why’) So it won’t come as a surprise to know that I found this article by Lou Carlozo outlining the psychology of storytelling for sales & the keys to making it work. So what are they?

  • Oxytocin – the love drug or one that bonds mother to baby is switched on when we read stories
  • Metaphors matter – the use of metaphors are important in telling stories, they’re the Vegemite to the buttery toast. (Just don’t mix your metaphors or it can get messy)
  • Relevance – there’s no point telling a great story if it’s not relevant to the product/service or your customer.

So, how can you use these facts on social media to help your storytelling for sales?

You can make it about you

While probably not widely recommended, and pretty much going against most of what I teach, you can try the following ways of incorporating storytelling for sales and talking about you…

  • The history behind the product/service – was it your first, come out of necessity, your favourite
  • Give a behind the scenes story on how the item is developed or improved
  • Tell us how it makes you feel when someone purchases your item

Make it about them

You could also do the much recommended – make it about your client…

  • Post a testimonial on why they love your product (just make sure you include their photo, read more here)
  • Tell them how the item will make them feel & make a difference (based on what they’ve told you of course)
  • Give them ideas on how else to use your item (I’ve received some great ones over the years – like a headband for a curtain tie-back)

You see, sales is no longer the straight forward “buy my shit because it’s awesome & I said so”, the vast majority of us research our purchase before they’re even made & with a whole internet full of information (and mis-information) – the last thing we need and want is hard old school ram it down your throat sales. It just isn’t working. Now I know how the mind is triggered by storytelling for sales, I know I’ll be spending a lot more time honing my stories (and making more sales).

If you would like to learn more about  connecting and using the power of the mind in your business then we can chat or you can learn it all in my course that will teach you what you need for all of your social media.

What Simon Sinek didn’t say about ‘why’

People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it. What does Simon Sinek mean when he says this? There are a couple of layers to this.

People buy your story

We love a good story. We love a distraction from our everyday. We love to learn.

So when you our outlining your ‘why’ you are taking people on a journey into what makes you and/or your business tick. Why it’s important. Why it matters. Why it exists.

So why are stories important

This bit is actually more important than the actual story itself. They allow us escape from our lives, even if it’s just for a moment. They inspire us. They let us a little peek inside your life. They allow us to feel as though we are getting to know you on a deeper level. Stories allow us to connect.

Ok, so using your business as an escape from our lives  is a bit of voyeurism, but seriously, I know a number of businesses who outlet their personal struggles on their business page. It’s an integral part of who they are and people appreciate it. They might keep coming back to read the next episode of the epic saga, but keeping them on your page builds that relationship and paves the way to purchase.

Like the voyeur in us waiting for the next part of your story, your story can inspire. Your ‘why’ can motivate us into taking action, or changing action. It can motivate us to align with you because it matches our ‘why’. You can serve as an example.

Telling your ‘why’ let’s us learn more about you. It tells us what drives you to work in your business. Now, celebrity business owners and entrepreneurs are great examples here. We love to know more about celebrities and their lives. How they made their fortunes, what their latest purchase is, how they are moving in their business.  Stories can be a little ‘how to’ window we have as outsiders.

Stories allow us to see you as you are. Like we are friends. We share stories with our friends, laughs, tears, frustrations. We connect over stories. So by sharing stories and your ‘why’ we feel like we know you that bit more.

Stories build connections. We can see, in your story, where we are the same (or different), what is important to you (what you believe & value), and if these align a little bit of us in you. These are the fibres that bind us to people. These fibres create tribes. These tribes create a following. That following makes a ground swell.

Where we share or see commonalities we have connection.

Why are connections important

Humans are social beings. We need to connect. We have a strong sense of belonging. We seek security in our tribe.

When we, as customers, connect with a business we build a sense of trust. When you accept us in, we have a sense of belonging. When you do this we like you. When you do this, we know you. All of these things are the ‘touches’ we need to be lead to a sale. These are the things we need feel safe.

So why do ‘ people don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it’? Connection. We need connection to feel trust and when we feel trust we feel that our actions in that trusted relationship are sound, secure, and worthy. These are things you need to engender for long standing paying relationships.

What’s your Facebook Group Think?

Facebook group think. (I actually like the play on words.) It’s a ‘thing’ going around the marketing community that Facebook Pages are dead and the Groups are the place to be. Hang on a minute, wait one! Before you launch headlong into starting a new group and ditching your page altogether consider the following…

Do you have the time?

OK, so you can flip this on your head and say, do you have the time not to, but do you honestly have the time to run a group. Running a Facebook Group is not a set and forget thing. You can not leave them to their own devices.

In fact, I find that running a Facebook Group is more time intensive as I need to interact and answer questions in a more timely manner. I really can’t plug my group into a social listening tool and comment when needed – I have to monitor my notifications. Sure I could ignore or batch my interaction, but that (currently) doesn’t work for my group.

Do you have the content?

Following on from the wish that they are ‘set & forget’, a group will not run itself unless you give it some bones & direction – certainly not in the early days anyway. I, like many, have theme days; I have one each weekday & one for the weekend. I still have to find content to populate these.

Yes in time & with growing numbers, this will start to work on its own, but you will still need to monitor and interact.

Your content needs to be relevant & interesting. It needs to spark an interest to keep their interest.

Can you be consistent?

Can you turn up EVERY day and post, interact etc? People love consistency and you need to be able to provide it.

Do these issues look familiar?

These are the exact reasons why people struggle to maintain a Facebook Page: time, content, & consistency. There is no magic wand to wave over these. While I do schedule my posts to go into my Facebook Group, I still need to create the content – it just means I don’t have to be up and around physically putting that information in to the group.

Please don’t get me wrong, there are benefits to having a group. However it’s not better reach or engagement as you are still trying to connect to people. If your content in the group does not meet their needs, it will still fall flat. I see this time and again in groups where Admin put up offers, webinars etc and they get 1% conversion. Honestly, they’d get that on their Facebook Page!

Please don’t buy into this Chicken Little attitude that the sky is falling and ‘Facebook Pages are Dead! All hail Facebook Groups!’, it is a trend, they do work, but only because you do.

In the past I have written on why you should choose a Facebook Group or Page. It’s full of technical reasons one is better than the other. Go and have a read , it might help sway you one way or another. I just beg, please don’t be another one of those groups that people go “Oh why did I join this waste of space?” It will just leave you with the same impression of Facebook Groups that you have with Pages.

If you’re willing to give your Page another shot, you can always download my quick hints to growing a Facebook Page without Facebook Ads. Fair warning, I do ask for your email address so I can send you emails with helpful information like this blog post.

If you want to give Facebook Groups a try, come on over and join mine. You can see how it’s run & you’ll get to learn even more cool things about running a business online. It’s free, helpful, resourceful, and not pitchy bitchy or spammy (the three evil dwarves of online groups).

Finally, like I mentioned earlier, you really need to consider the person who joins your group. It’s a real live human on the other end. It’s a somebody you are wanting to build a relationship with, it’s a person you want to part with their cash, it’s not a lead/target/pixel/widget. These are people, like you & I, IF you want to learn how to change someone’s behaviour so they do part with their cash be it through a website, social media, or some other online tool – then please join the waiting list for a new course I am developing that will tap into my understanding of human behaviour & over a decade of experience in moving businesses online.

How your mindset around your point of difference is hurting your business

Your point of difference has to be more that quality, price or service.

It has been a few years now since I first heard that quality is a standard point of difference in the market place and in fact has lost its importance. You can imagine my shock, I mean I used to manage a QA function for the Australian Government – quality was my thang. Nope, smashed down … it’s not good enough.

The thing is, as the marketplace gets smaller with the internet expanding, they’re right. Quality is just expected by your customers. Here’s the thing, so is timeliness & service and in some arenas the ability to customise. So what is now the point of difference?

I keep coming back to a quote:

‘People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.’

Maya Angelou

This isn’t any different in business, in fact this is a point of difference where others can not compete. Your competition can TRY to replicate how you make your customers feel, but it will never quite be the same. This is how businesses develop a tribe following – think Coke vs Pepsi, Mac vs PC, iPhone vs Android. They all function the same but it’s how the person feels when using and being part of that community that has them coming back.

So how do you engender & foster a good feeling around your business as a point of difference?

The first thing is to know where your core values and beliefs rest. Then you need to find out the same for your ideal client. Here’s the hard thing…

You then need to draw a line between them and constantly and consistently communicate this to your customers. You need to reinforce it on and offline and through all media.

I know it sounds warm, fuzzy, and tree huggy but in an age of growing competition it’s these things that will have your business standing head and shoulders above others. Why?

You see, in business we are actually trying to change someone’s behaviour. You are trying to get them to part with their hard earnt money. You want them to dig deep & cough up. How is this achieved. You need to dig deep into them.

Talking to their core

Ever heard of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, where we need physical needs met and then we can move up to the higher needs? Ok, so when you are trying to influence behaviour you need to meet these needs. Sometimes you will be meeting the lower ones “Got a hunger?”, “Need to warm up this winter?” and other times you will be meeting the higher needs “Want to do more with your life?”, “Want to impact on others?”. The higher they are it doesn’t mean that they are harder to meet. You just need to know what they are for your client and hit them head on. It’s all about making people feel and connecting to them on a deeper level, they won’t forget that.

You see, if you connect at this level you remove the guess work for them. You’ve told them exactly why they need you or your product. They don’t need to work that out from a list of features. Why is this important? Well in the overabundance of businesses competing for your customer, you are telling them why, you aren’t wasting their time by having to compare feature X over Y, you’re saving them time & energy and THAT is important to all of us. Don’t waste their time. Tell them how it meets their needs, their deep core, pressing, fire in the belly needs. That’s a strong point of difference.

Showing empathy/understanding

We have this strong need to feel part of something, to be understood. When you show your customers that you actually understand what their needs are & that you truly aren’t all about pressing your stuff on them, they will appreciate it. Do you get overwhelmed by the constant advertising around you? It’s all ‘buy, buy, buy’, ‘limited time only’, ‘special discounted price’. How does it make you feel? Anxious? These are fear tactics and use scarcity to motivate. Don’t get me wrong, it works, but it doesn’t make your customer feel good. They feel stressed, anxious, and pressured. Do you like feeling like that in a world when the majority of us already have enough stress and feel pressed for time?

So why add to it? When your competition is relying solely on scare tactics, try empathy & understanding as your point of difference. It adds a human element, creating connection. The good thing is that genuine connection and understanding builds connections. Customers will see that there is a real person behind the business. This can make conflict harder as it’s no longer about the exchange of money for goods/services. They understand that there is a person on the other side, one who understands them.

Showing they matter/important

Who doesn’t like their five minutes of fame! We all like to feel special to someone and most of us like to have that publicly recognised. So why not do it. Now it doesn’t have to be a ‘super star customer’, or changing out your Facebook Header Image for their profile picture. Even acknowledging their time in writing a review or sharing their purchase makes a difference. There’s a skill to this though & the biggest mistake you don’t want to make is NOT including a photo of them. Why? If you include their photo in their review or share you not only acknowledge them directly and give them direct bragging rights, you also use one of the most powerful influencers in reviews – a face to a name. You can read more on this article, but in short by using their photo you give others a point to relate with. You see, others will see the image and think, “Wow, they look like a nice, honest person & remind me of xyz, if they use this then I should to! Don’t think you can do this on your social media or website? Try a newsletter, try personalising your newsletter.

The thing is if you just speak to their core needs, beliefs and values they will feel important and that they matter. Your customers will feel that you have spent the time and effort to get to know them and that you value that time you spent doing so and that they matter. A trite ‘your call is important to us’ really doesn’t cut the mustard any more, it’s not a point of difference. A point of difference is offering a call back service, using Facebook Messenger, monitoring Twitter, or using a chat facility on your website. They are different, they are points of difference. They show that you understand that they like to have options, that they may not be able to call during 9-5, that they might not like being on the phone, that they be on a computer all day and having online chat is convenient for them. You show them that you understand we are all different and your time is important to us & we want to be heard.

Apply this in your business