What’s in a name?

People occasionally ask me why I named my consulting business Hijinx so I figured I would write a blog post about it.

When I decided to start doing consulting, I wanted a name that had a little bit of sass and was unique.

“High jinks” is also known as its shorter form – hijinks. The definition is “boisterous fun”.

Anyone who knows me knows that I am a fan of symmetry and crisp creative design, which is why I changed the ‘ks’ to the letter X. Voila, uniqueness!

Good goals vs bad goals

Good goals vs bad goals

Yes, there are such things as bad goals. How can that be? Take these two examples:

  • Goal 1: Increase sales of my widgets.
  • Goal 2: Increase sales of my widgets by 20% by the end of the year.

Can you tell which one is a good goal and which one is a bad goal? Of course, you can. The second goal is more specific and precise. It gives you something to measure your success by. This is because it uses components of a framework called SMART (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-bound ). Sometimes it is a little harder to tell a bad goal from a good goal. How about these examples:

  • Goal 1: Increase our email database by 500 recipients by the end of the month.
  • Goal 2: Increase our email database by 5,000 recipients by the end of the month.

These both have measurable goals – both in number and in timing. So, which one is good and which one is bad? It is a trick question. Either one of them could be good, depending on your business. If your business currently has 2,000 names in your email list, maybe 500 new recipients is a good number. However, if your business currently has 100,000 names, 500 is probably a bad goal. Why? Your goals need to be proportional to your current situation. The company with 100,000 names on their email list should set a more worthy goal of adding 5,000 recipients. 

Another consideration is the potential audience pool. If you are in a very niche industry and your email list already contains 90% of the potential pool of possible targets, then perhaps a small goal number is warranted. You also need to match your goal with your potential resources. If you create goals that will require a $1 million marketing budget to achieve, but your budget is only $100,000, you aren’t going to meet those goals. You are setting yourself up for failure if you don’t match your goals with all of these factors.

This may not be what you want to hear, but it is what you need to understand in order to be effective at any type of marketing, let alone the specific niche of content marketing. 

Let’s talk Pinterest

Let’s talk Pinterest

Pinterest logo

No matter what your small business sells, you have a lot of options for your marketing. But have you ever thought about Pinterest as a marketing channel?

Do you think that Pinterest is just for people to post recipes and crafts? Yes, it is used for a lot of that type of content. But that is not all that is pinned on that site. Did you know that the site is the 3rd largest social media platform globally with 322 million users?

You can take advantage of this large audience for your business marketing, particularly if your core audience is female with disposable income. You can use Pinterest for product marketing, but it is also ripe for your content marketing initiatives. Here are some ideas for you to try:

  • Pin links to each of your product pages
  • Create boards for each of your product categories
  • Create ‘how-to’ content on your website and pin those on Pinterest
  • Interact! Follow boards that are relevant to your business or influencers in your industry. Respond to comments on your pins.
  • Pin content from third-party sites that backlink to your site
  • If you are using Pinterest a lot, add your Pin code to printed marketing materials (brochures, business cards)
  • Add Pinterest save buttons to your website

There are a few things you will want to think about when using Pinterest:

  • Have a plan. Don’t just create an account without having an idea of what your content plan will be. Lay out your goals for your account just like you would any other channel.
  • Google does search Pinterest for content, so make sure you are aligning to your SEO goals and using keywords in your pin titles and descriptions
  • If you are linking to your website, make sure you are using ‘pin-worthy’ high quality images
  • Don’t forget to measure your results!

Do you use Pinterest as part of your marketing strategy? Add your tips in the comments!

Your customer has a question…

Your customer has a question…

Business owners talk to their customers all the time, right? Well…not always.

I am continually surprised by how many large companies do not respond to their customer or potential customers on social media. WHY? If a customer walked into your store or called you on the phone, would you ignore them? I would hope not! If you are not going to engage with your audience on social media, then maybe that is not the right channel for you to communicate.

Don’t be like those big companies. You are in a unique situation as a small business to engage with your customers at a personal level.

Here are some common queries that customers ask and how to respond to them:

Logistical questions: What time are you open? Do you carry a certain product?

Response: Always, always answer these type of questions. As quickly as possible. If you use Facebook, you can even set up standard responses. Or develop a list of answers to common questions so you can easily respond to your customers. These are no-brainers.

Compliments: They love your products, had a great experience with an associate or want to share your generosity.

Response: Some businesses think they don’t need to respond to these type of messages. But that is wrong. By responding (particularly to a public comment), you elevate these brand-boosting messages. If it is a really good comment, you might even think about asking the person who made it if you could use their comment (or image) in your marketing. This is called UCG, user generated content.

Complaints: They had a bad experience with you, your staff or your products.

Response: It may not be comfortable, but you need to acknowledge complaints. Do not just leave them hanging out there without responding. Show empathy. Make it right (if you can). There is no excuse for not responding to a complaint, particularly when it is public. Responding shows everyone else that you are paying attention and make things right if there is a problem.

Does it matter if the messages are direct to you or public comments? In most cases, no. If you don’t respond to public comments and questions, everyone will see that you are not engaged with your customers. If you don’t respond to direct messages, you are ignoring customers who are actively seeking you out. They took the time to find you online to ask a question. You should take the time to respond.

Have more questions about engaging with your customers, contact me for a free 30-minute get acquainted call.

Data Rules the World (but not the way you think it does)

Data Rules the World (but not the way you think it does)

As humans, we are unique beings. We have a brain and a heart. We have emotions and feelings.

We use our senses to help us make decisions about a person when we meet them. What do they look like? Are they dressed nicely or are they disheveled? Do they smile? How hard do they shake your hand? Do they look you in the eye?

We use past experiences. Do they remind you of someone else that you had a good or bad experience with? Do they work for a company you like or one that you don’t?

We use other information. In what context are you meeting them? Did someone else give you a heads up about this person?

We use all of this data to make a determination about another person. And it is the same with businesses. Our audience uses all of these things to make a determination about whether to do business with companies. What will they think of you? Think of your business ‘courting’ new customers.

    • What is your appearance? Is your website neat and user-friendly? Or is it sloppy and loud?
    • How do you sound? Do you use colloquialisms in your marketing? Or do you sound like a legal contract?
    • Do you look people in the eye? Do you meet people where they are? Or do you come at them from an angle?
    • How hard do you shake their hand? Are you ‘in their face’? Or are you more subtle?
    • Do you smile? Is your marketing light and welcoming? Or dark and off-putting?
    • Did a friend tell your customer target about you? Do you know who your company’s advocates are? And are you engaging with them?

These are all things you need to think about when you are creating your marketing. And it is ok to get a second opinion. We all get tunnel vision about our own businesses and our own work.

If you are looking for that second opinion, contact me to learn how I can help.