Monday, January 16, 2012

How to Keep in Touch With Your Customers

As a business owner, understanding your customer's wants and needs is vital. Knowing what your customers like, dislike and how they feel about your business and its products or service is incredibly important. Having customer input can help you improve your business, its products, services and business processes. Keeping in touch with your customers is just one way to build those relationships, which is imperative to any small business.

Here are some ways you can keep in touch with your customers:

1. Stay Connected With E-mail
To keep in touch with your customers via e-mail, collecting e-mail addresses is imperative! Building a comprehensive customer email list is a great way to send updates about new products, services, new locations and much more. Best of all, e-mail is two-way. You can also collect feedback on different ways that you can improve your business.

2. Leverage Social Media to Get to Know Your Customers
From LinkedIn and Facebook to Twitter and MySpace, small business owners are quickly learning that social media is here to stay. Plus, it's another avenue to keep in touch with your customers. It can seem overwhelming with so many options, but small steps are key. Getting involved and learning should be your top priority.

3. Public Relations Helps Customers Get to Know Your Business
Public relations is a great way to keep in touch with your customers, especially since customers may see your business in the local media, which builds credibility. Survey your customers on products and services and then publicize the results. For example, a travel agency may give their customers a survey asking for their favorite travel destination. Once the results are compiled, create a press release entitled "XYZ Travel Agency Finds Hawaii is Local Residents' Favorite Getaway."

What are some other ways to keep in touch with your customers? Offer a monthly loyal customers event, create a special promotion that can be sent to them or just send a short hand-written note thanking them for their business. As a small business owner, you need to show your customers that you care.

Better yet, take a step back and think about all the ways you like to be contacted by businesses that you deal with, it can help generate more ideas on how to keep in touch with your customers. Building relationships with your customers will help grow your business. What are you waiting for? Start building relationships with customers today!

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Consistency is Key

Whether you're talking about working out, starting a business or achieving goals, one thing is certain -- consistency is key to success. With the New Year quickly underway (how are we almost halfway through January?!), what better time to evaluate where to focus your consistency efforts?

I was cleaning out my Google Reader recently, since I'm not sure how I ended up following 50+ blogs with everything from green and frugal living (to stay abreast of topics for my other blog -- to fitness (did I mention I also have a blog called  Not to mention the blogs on small business, marketing and PR that I follow!

As I went through each blog, I noticed that more than a third of them hadn't been active or updated anywhere from six months to more than a year. Wow! It's actually a shame because some of them were valuable resources and I thoroughly enjoyed the posts. So that got me to thinking? Part of success is just doing what needs to be done day in and day out. Could it really be that simple? For your blog or business to progress and grow, you need to give it attention on a regular basis.

That's why one of my New Year's Resolutions is to dedicate one hour each day to my blogs. I don't want to end up getting deleted from someone's Google Reader due to inactivity!

What are you doing to ensure your consistency?

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

5 Ways to Stay Motivated

Many businesses can be all-consuming. Staying focused on a business day in and day out can wear on your motivation and productivity. Keeping motivation charged up and burning bright can be the difference between having a successful business and a failed one. Here are a few ways you can keep your motivation in check

Get Motivated by Setting Goals
It's hard to be productive and find motivation if your business does not have a set of goals. From the number of clients and amount of revenue to expansion plans and new products, knowing what your business needs to achieve in a set period of time will help motivate business owners to accomplish what needs to get done. Having a plan is essential to reach your objectives.

Monitor Progress for Motivation
Once the goals and time line are set, it's important to keep tabs on how many accomplishments have been reached. Reaching even the smallest achievement can have a snowball effect. It will stoke the flames of motivation. So on either a weekly, bi-weekly or monthly basis, be sure to compare progress to the established goals of the business.

Try Something New -- Or Do Nothing at All
Sometimes a new activity, research or attending a conference will get even the most procrastinating business owner motivated. But sometimes doing too much can lead to burn out and de-motivation. What's the cure? Do nothing at all. Take a walk, read a book or meditate. Stepping away from work and the business can be very motivating. It can help recharge the batteries.

Brainstorm with Family, Friends or Colleagues
A lack of motivation can be due to a number of reasons. One way to get revitalized is to brainstorm new ideas with family, friends, colleagues or even clients. The best customers can offer some of the best ideas for how to take a business to the next level. Or, do some research, either by surveying customers or even doing some due diligence on what the competition is doing.

Stay Focused by Thinking Outside the Box
Innovation is the key to any successful business. It's imperative to constantly think of new ways to do things, new products to offer, and most importantly, how to differentiate from the competition. Doing a pulse check on the competition is one way to keep finding innovative ways to keep the business growing and evolving.

In order for businesses to stay ahead of the pack, staying motivated and productive is essential. Remember to do what is necessary in order not to keep innovating. Here's to continued success...and motivation!