How to Use the 6 Principles of Persuasion to Boost Sales

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The power of persuasion can influence people to complete a wide variety of actions, one of which is purchasing a product or service. Our ability to properly influence others is reliant on six key principles of persuasion, originating from psychologist Robert Cialdini’s research on the subject. From Cialdini’s observations training at used car dealerships, fund-raising organizations, and telemarketing firms he concluded that these six principles can be very beneficial in sales.

Reciprocity

The notion of treating others as you would like to be treated is found in many different religions and cultures. It is very human to feel an obligation to return the favor for every kindness we receive. When applied to the world of sales, this concept of reciprocity translates into businesses providing value to clients. Whether it is a discount on a service or a free product, this action influences customers to give to your business by continuing to be a loyal customer or purchasing a new offering. This idea of give and take is a strong form of persuasion.

Scarcity

Consumers are accustomed to seeing the phrases “offer expires soon” and “limited stock available” in marketing for virtually every product imaginable. This is because creating a sense of urgency is extremely successful in sales. By highlighting the scarcity of an offer, businesses are conveying that the customer is losing something of value by not acting on it. Loss aversion, better known by millennials as fear of missing out (FOMO), has a strong enough pull to influence customers to take action on an offer.

Consistency

One of the main reasons we declare new year’s resolutions to close friends and family is to hold ourselves accountable to the commitments we’ve made. Once we have committed to an action, it is easier to consistently act upon it. Have your customers commit to future appointments with appointment cards. Automatic appointment reminders via email or text will make it easy for customers to commit to showing up for their appointment. By getting your customers to consistently commit to an action, you are setting your business up for more sales and success.

Liking

Another powerful form of persuasion is genuinely making customers like your business. Forming a genuine connection with customers makes it harder for them to say no to you. Customers have pledged their loyalty for life to businesses simply because an employee remembered details about family members or the customer’s love of a musician. When customers not only like your products and services, but like your business as well, you are securing their loyalty and your sales.

Social Proof

The best way to motivate potential customers to purchase a product or service from your business is to show them examples of satisfied customers already using them. People are much more likely to complete an action when they see someone else doing the same thing. Testimonials and online reviews are great examples of the social proof people need before making a decision. Social proof persuades customers that choosing your business is a good decision with examples of satisfied customers to back it up.

Authority

Similar the principle of social proof, authority draws its power from perceived success and expertise. Be sure to present your business as professional and trustworthy at every opportunity. Consciously, people are more inclined to follow the direction of an authority figure. Point to well-established customers in your industry who are using your products and services to leverage their authority. When potential customers see that these authority figures are thriving with your business, they may think of doing the same as a good investment.

Knowing how and when to use the six principles of persuasion depends on the type of business you operate. Choose the principles that make the most sense for your business to help influence potential customers on a conscious and subconscious level. By applying a few or all of these principles to your sales strategy, you can effectively boost sales for your business.

The Top Marketing Trends of 2018

top marketing trends 2018 blog

While 2018 may have felt like the longest year to date, 2019 arrived quickly. As we settle into the first days of this new year, we wanted to look back at the top marketing trends of 2018. Here are all the top trends businesses small and large would benefit from adding to their marketing strategy in the new year.

Storytelling

The Association of National Advertisers chose “brand purpose” as the 2018 marketing word(s) of the year. This should come as no surprise, as 2018 saw many businesses return to the art of storytelling in marketing. At the core, storytelling is centered on creating connections around a brand’s purpose and eliciting an emotional response that translates into a desired action. By sharing how your brand’s purpose relates to your products and services, you can build a loyal community that have trust in your mission.

Influencer Marketing

A recent study on influencer marketing showed that 70% of millennials are driven to make buying decisions based on the recommendations of their peers. This year more brands have relied on influencers, or customer advocates, to endorse their products and services. Encouraging user-generated content is a great way to increase organic traffic to your website and social media channels. The best thing about influencer marketing is the added boost to your morale from having staunch advocates for your business.

Video Marketing

Over the past few years, video has continued to provide excellent results for businesses that embrace video as a part of their marketing strategy. However, many companies are still hesitating to devote the necessary time and budge to video marketing. When you take into account that businesses using video grow revenue at a rate 49% faster than those who don’t, it’s a no-brainer to embrace video to benefit your business goals. In fact, video marketing is no longer a trend or a strategy, it is a necessary channel to support your larger business goals.

Whether your business is focused on growth or improving the way you connect with existing customers, these strategies can significantly help your efforts. Focusing on methods to attract and engage your target audience will set your business up for success in 2019 and beyond.

4 Tips on Being an Effective Leader

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If you want your team and business to succeed, you’ll need to be more than a good task manager. You’ll need to be a good leader. The best leaders know how to manage both the operational and human aspects of a business. They have the know-how to get the job done—but always respect employees’ unique qualities. Often, leaders are comfortable with the operational aspects of their roles. However, some need coaching on the human elements. By following four core practices, you can develop your leadership skills—and help your business thrive.

Avoid Micromanaging Your Employees

Good leaders recognize that they can’t do everything themselves. Instead, they distribute decision-making and tasks throughout the organization. As a recent article in the Harvard Business Review explains, the best leaders empower employees to self-organize. That means leaders provide clear direction on the work but give employees freedom. Employees have the power to decide when and how to complete tasks.

Giving up control can be hard for some leaders at first, but it is a necessary step for growth. Studies have proven that empowered teams are far more productive and empowered team members show higher levels of commitment to the organization. By contrast, micromanaging employees can decrease productivity and morale. How can you know if you’re micromanaging? You may find yourself doling out tasks one at a time. Or you may require approval for every employee’s decision. To improve, you need to take a step back and try not to check in on day-to-day work too often.

Share a Healthy Mix of Positive and Negative Feedback

As a leader, you have to give direction—and may need to step in when tasks go off course. Even so, you should avoid focusing only on negative and corrective feedback. In fact, a recent study found that top-performing teams share more praise than criticism. That means you should seek out opportunities to praise employees. Encourage employees to praise each other as well.

Another important study underscored the importance of offering praise in the workplace. Researchers found that praise helps employees focus on images of their “best selves.” Praise helps them gain confidence and complete tasks more efficiently. And that boosts overall team productivity.

Care About Employees’ Career Development

Once you move into a leadership role, you take on responsibility for others’ professional growth. You need to care about the progress of your team as a whole. And that means caring about each individual. No two employees are alike. You should spend time getting to know each person on your team. Find out all you can about their motivators and future goals.

Equipped with this information, you can help them pursue training and promotion opportunities to advance their careers. Taking an interest in your employees’ aspirations can help them envision a future with your business. This increases retention—and supports succession planning. You can cultivate next-generation leaders and trust that your business will be in capable hands in the years ahead.

Build a Diverse and Inclusive Team

Diversity and inclusion aren’t mere buzzwords. Instead, they’re practices that give every business clear advantages. Studies have shown that diverse organizations are more productive and innovative. Focusing on diversity helps broaden your talent pool and draw in top candidates. Start by educating yourself about individuals from different backgrounds. You also may need to seek out new recruiting sources. Once you have a diverse mix of employees, show sensitivity to everyone’s unique perspectives and concerns. Being a good listener is key.

Make praise and positive feedback part of your culture. And help employees look beyond the daily task list and create a vision of their future careers. Bring in individuals from diverse backgrounds and welcome their unique insights. If you embrace these core concepts, you’ll grow into an effective leader. And you’ll be able to guide your organization to new levels of excellence.

Does Your Net Promoter Score Matter?

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Your Net Promoter Score (or NPS), can be summed up as a measurement of how likely a customer is to recommend your business to a friend. Businesses ask their customers the familiar question: “How likely are you on a scale of 0-10 to recommend our products or services?” Customers who indicate 0-6 are called detractors, 7-8 are neutral, and 9-10 are known as promoters. Subtract the percentage of detractors from the percentage of promoters to reveal your NPS. Here is why NPS is an important measurement for your business.

Online Reputation

Word-of-mouth is a powerful tool for businesses and NPS can show you whether the talk is positive or negative. There is no marketing campaign a business can launch that will ever outshine a trusted recommendation from a friend. The same logic can be applied to online review sites – the first step in the decision making process for many people. After identifying the promoters in your customer base, encourage them to leave a review of your business. Their positive reviews signal to others that your business is trustworthy and values customer service.

Referral Boost

Research has proven that referred customers provide a greater ROI than other customers –16% over the customer’s lifetime. This is likely explained by the fact that referrals arrive in your office with pre-established trust in your business, trust that you would typically have to earn with other customers. These customers are also likely to be more receptive to upsells of other products and services that you may offer. Your NPS can help bring in more referrals by identifying promoters and leveraging their customer satisfaction to your benefit.

Improves Churn

Customer churn is a problem that businesses of all sizes deal with everyday. Disappearing customers can be a tough blow to your business’ morale, particularly for small businesses. NPS is useful in combating churn because it allows you to identify and reach out to your detractors. Following up with those unsatisfied customers will make them feel heard and appreciated, which is usually enough to prevent churn. Resolving these issues also helps to turn a detractor into a promoter. By using NPS, you can identify the root cause of churn and stop it before it happens.

First-class customer service is one of the main goals of all businesses. NPS will help your business reach that goal by showing your your business the path forward to improve and maintain customer satisfaction.

Simple Design Rules to Keep Your Brand Modern

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Whether you are a large-scale business or a small mom-and-pop store, your brand is everything. The design of your brand needs to be polished and refined across all marketing channels. If your brand’s design is old and outdated, your business may fail to make a lasting impression on potential customers. A good brand design should portray your business as smart, professional and current with recent trends. Here are a few easy-to-follow design rules to keep your brand’s design from falling into the prehistoric era.

Type Hierarchy

Making your website copy stand out on the page is essential to capture your site visitors’ attention. One way to make this task simple is by implementing a typographic hierarchy, which means formatting type to show the most important copy, making your website easy to navigate. Adding three levels of typography to your design is a good starting point, with the levels being the headline, subhead and main text. Type hierarchy makes it easy to communicate your message to site visitors at a glance, while also enhancing your website’s readability.

Headline

Subhead

Body copy

Minimal Effects

On average, 25% of site visitors will leave a website if the page does not load in less than 4 seconds. A common reason for slow loading websites is heavy usage of design elements such as Flash, videos and large images. The best sleek and modern brand designs are often the most simple designs. Don’t overcomplicate your design by using a wide array of design effects that take the focus away from your central message. Keep it simple and choose optimized images, simple background colors and a typeface that is in a contrasting color that is easily legible.

Consistency

Arguably the most important design rule is to design with consistency. Consistent design elements on your website and other branded materials is crucial to making your brand instantly recognizable to customers. Try to use a similar color palette throughout all of your brand materials to create visual harmony. Everything should be consistent, from the color palette to the use of white space and the way elements are aligned. Remaining consistent with your design elements ensures that all of your marketing materials are an extension of your brand.

The design that you choose for your brand will play a major role in helping you get noticed by your target audience. A strong visual strategy is just as important as any online marketing strategy. Follow these simple guidelines for a modern brand design that never goes out of style.

How to Build a Loyal Audience

How to Build a Loyal Audience

By now you know that attracting new customers is crucial to the success of your business. However, it is even more important to form a lasting impact on your current customers to gain and keep their business. Quality customer service, great products and services are an important part of building up a loyal audience. The best way to instill trust in your customers is to show them that you understand and see them. Here are a few ways to build a strong audience for your business.

Build a connection

One of the best ways to connect with your patients is through social media. Your business’ social media accounts present a great opportunity to give it a personality, and connect with customers outside of the office. From sharing special promotions or engaging with your followers on Facebook and Instagram, regularly update your social media accounts with fun and relevant posts to reap the benefits of customer loyalty. It’s also important to respond to your customers to further cement that loyalty.

Be the expert they trust

Often customers get nervous when they are recommend to add on a service. They may feel it’s a unnecessary cost. The best way to ensure their is trust when you are suggesting an add-on service is to explain in detail why you feel it’s necessary. If you can offer an alternative option as well, especially one that is more affordable, that’s even better. Trust is everything when you’re trying to build a loyal audience.

Thank your customers

A quick ‘thank you’ note goes a long with customers – whether it includes a promotion or not. People genuinely love to be appreciated for their time. The best time to thank them is within 24 hours after they’ve visited, and most customers prefer to receive their thank yous via email. But if your business can do it, a handwritten ‘thank you’ note will blow them away.

Finding the right way to engage with your customers is a great way to foster loyalty. Once you have discovered a strategy that works, you can easily amass a following of customers that will keep coming back to your business for years to come.

How to Celebrate Small Business Saturday

Celebrate Small Business Saturday

The holiday retail race will begin in just one week – is your business ready to take advantage of Small Business Saturday? Unlike Black Friday, Small Business Saturday encourages shoppers to show some love for small businesses in their local community. Statistics prove that people want to support their communities. In 2012, when the holiday was founded by American Express, $5.5 billion was spent in small businesses across America in a single day. Here are a few ways that both your business and your clients can celebrate Small Business Saturday.

Promote Small Business Saturday

As a small business, it’s important to get a head start on promotions so that you can stand out from your Black Friday competitors. Remind all of your clients about Small Business Saturday in advance by promoting the event on social media. Let your followers know about the history of the event and what your business has planned with posts on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Don’t forget to send out emails to all of your subscribers encouraging them to “shop small” with your business.

Create Incentives

Think about what makes your small business stand out from retail chain stores. Whether it’s personalized customer service or a local product that only you provide, highlight it in your incentive. It’s important that you remind your clients that all of their support for your business goes right back into the community.

Spending $100 at a local business results in an average of $68 that stays in the local community compared to $43 for national franchise businesses.

Any incentive that you offer your clients, can help the whole community in the long term.

Think Ahead

Small Business Saturday is a great event to boost visibility and sales for your business, but remember to look beyond this one day. You can use the shopping frenzy to the advantage of your business and plan your strategy going forward. Use all of the successful strategies from this event and repurpose them all year long to see increased business and client loyalty.

When small businesses succeed, the entire community succeeds. By encouraging your clients to shop local, you can help improve your community and your business’ bottom line. Celebrating Small Business Saturday is a guaranteed win for you and your clients.

Getting Comfortable With Upselling

Getting comfortable with upselling

Would you like fries with that? If you’ve ever been to a fast-food restaurant, you have likely heard those words before. This is a classic example of upselling, a sales strategy that businesses use to introduce clients to additional products and services. While you may not be in the fast-food industry, upselling is a valuable strategy for your business. It gives you the opportunity to increase sales and generate more revenue while providing your clients with products and services that they need. Use the following strategies to confidently and effectively upsell your clients.

Options Are Key

Many businesses feel uncomfortable upselling to clients because it can be perceived as “pushy”. A good tactic to move from this uncomfortable feeling is to instead approach upselling as simply providing your clients with options. If you identify an opportunity to sell your client a product or service that you feel better fits their needs, simply use the phrase: “We offer another option that I think you would like.” This subtle shift in language portrays your business as helpful and serves to please your clients. Creating a better option is after all the backbone of upselling.

Judge Wisely

All of your clients have one thing in common: they don’t want to be sold a product or service that they don’t need. Before attempting to upsell your clients, you need to first identify if it is relevant to their needs. If a salon client has just received a new haircut, it’s not exactly relevant for the hair stylist to suggest hair extensions. In this example, suggesting a new hair color or highlights would be a better upsell choice. Upselling relevant products and services will help generate more sales for your business and improve overall client happiness.

Show The Bigger Picture

The key to completing an upsell is making sure that the client can see the big picture behind your suggestion. If you simply suggest an additional product or service without any context, clients are likely to decline. Clearly explain why you think the upsell is a good idea. Pitch the idea behind the upsell, how it will be beneficial in the long-run and provide as much detail as possible. When the client can see the big picture, they will start to believe that the upsell is a good idea too.

Once you get in the habit of accurately identifying upsell opportunities, suggesting additional products and services to your clients will come naturally. By using the strategies above you can create a better experience for your clients, resulting in a huge win for your business.

Is Your Website ADA Compliant?

Making your website ADA compliant

The Americans with Disabilities Act aims to protect the rights of disabled people to prevent discrimination against a person’s disability. This law requires businesses to offer accommodations like wheelchair ramps and handicapped parking for disabled persons. However, when the law was passed in 1990, it did not provide any specific language to protect disabled persons from discrimination on the Internet. While there is currently no legal definition of an ADA compliant website, here are a few elements your website should have to ensure that your hearing and vision impaired clients have a seamless experience.

Contrasting Colors

Your clients with vision impairments have difficulty viewing web pages the same way as other people. While an artistic website design might seem clear to you, certain color schemes are difficult for vision impaired persons to view. Ensure that your website is accessible for everyone by choosing white background colors with a font that is dark enough to pop against the background. This color contrast is crucial to have on your website to make your content clear and accessible for all site visitors. While this is beneficial for your vision impaired clients, it is also beneficial in reducing bounce rates for your business website.

Large Fonts

Avoid small, ineligible fonts on your website whenever possible. Not only do small fonts make it difficult for vision-impaired clients to read website content, but they also don’t render well on responsive website designs that adjust to fit screens on mobile devices. Use large font between 15 – 18px on your website to make sure your content is readable across all devices from – desktop sites to tablets to mobile phones. It is also important that you disable any settings that prevent site visitors from adjusting the font size in a user’s web browser. Visually impaired persons need to be able to specify font size as needed to properly view your website content.

Hyperlinks and Buttons

Influencing site visitors to perform an action is the goal of virtually every business website. The best way to get your visitors to take action is to make sure they know what to do! Clickable elements like hyperlinks and call-to-action (CTA) buttons on your website should be large, clear and stand apart from the body text. Visually impaired persons often scan web pages to quickly search for links. Concealing important links in a block of text makes it harder for your clients to find them. Additionally, make sure the links are descriptive of the information they’re leading to. “Updated Office Hours and Contact Information” is a lot more descriptive than simply “Update”.

Screen Reader Friendly

Screen readers make it possible for blind or visually impaired persons to “read” website content via a speech synthesizer or braille display. While screen readers are a wonderful way for visually impaired persons to access website content, they do have limitations. For example, screen readers are unable to “read” an image if the image doesn’t have alt text. Adding alt text is helpful because it gives context to your website images that a screen reader can “read” to site visitors. Alt text is also beneficial to your website’s SEO.

The best way to reach more clients online is to make your business website available for everyone. By ensuring that your website is ADA accessible, you are ensuring that all of your site visitors have a positive experience on your website. This can translate into the best possible outcome: increased traffic and conversions for your website.

Demandforce Customers: Top 3 Features to Use

Demandforce Customers: Top 3 Features to Use

Are you getting the most out of your portal? We want to make sure our customers are taking full advantage of all of the tools at your disposal. Trying out new features in your software is the best way to effectively optimize how you communicate with your clients. If you want to effectively grow your business, be sure to explore these marketing and communications features.

Thank You Emails

One of the best ways to show appreciation for your clients is to thank them! Business owners that aim to keep their clients happy and coming back for more shouldn’t overlook the value of a simple thank you email. Not only does it keep the lines of communication open between you and your clients, you can also turn it into an opportunity to receive more reviews. Include a link to your business’ review site in the email to encourage happy customers to leave a review.

Appointment Reminders

Missed appointments are a detriment to both your business and your customers. Ensure that your customers never miss an appointment again by scheduling appointment reminders. Once an appointment has been scheduled through the portal, our system will automatically send out a reminder email to the customer. You can control how soon the reminder is sent before the appointment and the delivery method (email, text or voice reminders). Our convenient system will help make no-show appointments a non-issue for your business.

Email Campaigns

Promotional campaigns and newsletters are a great way to draw attention to a specific product or service that your business provides. Using the portal, it’s easy to set up a custom campaign to engage with your customers. Choose the delivery time, the recipients and whether you want to create a recurring campaign. We also offer pre-built campaigns that your business may find useful if you’re just getting started with Demandforce. Whether you want to create a service specific campaign or a seasonal one, our system streamlines the process.

Give these three features a try for improved communications with your clients. Need help getting started? Reach out to your Customer Success Manager with any questions about our marketing and communication tools.