reviews

Benefits of customers telling your story

Who  doesn't  want this?

Who doesn't want this?

Last week, Lara wrote about how you can invite your customers to tell their story. Taking this step may be slightly anxiety-inducing if you’re worried about what people will say. However, when your business is delivering high-quality and meeting the needs of clients and customers, the risk is minimal.

Customers who support your business and have a relationship with you or your organization will be happy to spend some time making recommendations. And, though some pretty sensationally bad customer service situations get a lot of attention, those instances truly are the exception to the rule. Even most complaints don’t make it onto the Internet.

There are two really good reasons to ask your clients and customers to talk about you:

  1. If they feel strongly enough to say something - positive or negative - they are more likely to talk about you with or without a prompt.
  2. Ask and you shall receive. It’s not always top of mind to relay a positive experience with a business. By asking, you’ve brought it to mind in the context of the positive.

THREE BENEFITS OF ASKING

I recently liked my chiropractor’s Facebook Page (Dr. Surbjit Herr). Within a day or two, I received an email from his assistant thanking me for liking the page and asking me to post a review. (Very smart tactic…hint, hint.) So I did! It was actually a very easy step, because I’ve been talking about Dr. Herr to anyone who will listen for nearly a year. However, I hadn’t thought to post anything online, so I’m really glad his assistant asked.

How many of your customers might have a similar story?

You will get access to your customers’ and clients’ network of friends, family, and associates.

We all know and influence different people. When I post about the experience I’ve had with Dr. Herr, my network will see it and (since I’ve been actively encouraging a few friends to go to him anyway) someone may finally take the plunge because of comments I’ve made in such a public place.

You’ll find out (sometimes surprising) things that are important to your clients and customers.

Every business puts a certain effort into delivering service in the way that they feel will be well-received by patrons. However, some of the little touches can mean a whole lot. For example, Dr. Herr ends each of my son’s adjustments by telling him to close his eyes. While Brandon’s eyes are closed, Dr. Herr gets a bottle of bubbles and gets ready. Brandon covers his eyes with a huge smile on his face and waits for Dr. Herr to tell him to open his eyes. He gets such a kick out of popping the bubbles and he plays along with the “surprise” even though he knows it’s coming. The trust and affection my son openly shows Dr. Herr makes me feel good about taking him for treatment.

When your clients and customers are willing to talk about you, it increases your credibility to those who don’t yet know you.

It’s easy to go to a grocery store and hand over money for things you need. The trust required is small. However, maybe your business (like mine) requires trust in a concept that invites skepticism. Or, perhaps your business (like Dr. Herr’s) requires a level of personal interaction and information that may be uncomfortable for some. Seeing the testimonials of others who have had a positive experience can help overcome doubt and uncertainty.

YOUR TURN!

I challenge you to talk about one great experience with a business. Tell us in the comments who they are (share links if you can!) and why the experience you had was so positive - or post an online review for that business and then share the link with us. Then go and ask at least 5 of your own customers or clients to do the same for you!

How to monetize your online presence

This is my second post following my attendance to two social media conferences in Toronto in the last month.  For my views for brands see my previous post.

This post is going to talk about monetizing and working with brands from the individual’s point of view. There are many ways to get extra value out of the time and energy you put into your online presence and there are companies clamoring to figure out how to use you to spread their messages.  I don’t think it’s for everyone, but here are my thoughts on the options that are out there.

ADVERTISING

There was a time where people felt advertising on your blog was selling out.  Then it was ok and in fact desirable. Lately it seems like a lot of people are swinging back to the sell out point of view - that by advertising on your blog you are letting brands rule your content.

My feeling is that most people can advertise on their blog without selling out or compromising their values.

How? Approach advertisers that are a good fit for what you do. 

I would happily advertise for companies like Zemanta, Twitter, and Wordpress on this site. They make sense with my content.  I might also advertise local events, other online workshops and tools I feel would be of use to my audience.

If you are a healthy living/eating blog, maybe your advertisers are those who sell cookbooks you believe people should be using, or suppliers of healthy foods and products you have no qualms about endorsing to others.  If you are a blogger who talks about crafts, you could promote the companies that you use in your home.  If you are a blogger who has young kids and you love Fisher Price, what’s the harm in having an ad for them on your blog?

What wouldn’t I do? I wouldn’t have an ad on my blog for a high end restaurant on my kids’ blog, I wouldn’t have an ad on my personal blog for the Weed Man, and I wouldn’t promote anything I personally have issues with (I have lots of issues with Weed Man, don’t get me started! ;)).

I think that as long as you stay true to yourself and your own voice, you can find decide to try to find advertisers who fit in with who you are.

One of our great and longstanding advertisers at www.kidsinthecapital.ca

Is advertising for everyone? Absolutely not.

Will advertisers set limits on what you do and don’t say?  I haven’t encountered it but I’m sure there are some who would have issues with swearing or certain topics.  Do you talk that way on your blog? If so, maybe advertising isn’t appropriate for you, or maybe you just haven’t found the right advertisers.

Is it easy to get advertisers? It depends on your blog and your target niche. Sometimes it’s as easy as giving a quick ask and sometimes advertisers even come to you.  If getting advertisers is something you want to pursue, @missfish has some great resources (including this post on rate cards) on her blog and I’d be happy to answer questions in the comments on my experiences with it.

REVIEWS AND GIVEAWAYS


There are many companies out there who will offer you products in return for a review on your blog.  Some will also offer you an extra item for giveaway.

If this is something that interests you then approach companies and let them know why you’d be a good fit.  Just remember that you need to claim any free product that you receive as income on your income taxes.  The flip side of this is that you are now running a business and can claim expenses like an office, your internet, and your technology.  (Angele over at Shoebox Be Gone is a great resource for that kind of info.)

Ford graciously loaned us a Ford Explorer for both She’s Connected and Blissdom

A lot of companies won’t even ask you to specifically write a review in return for product, but they of course hope that you will talk about them.  I have gotten some fabulous clothing from Mark’s this way (I really am a huge fan of their clothing now!) and both GM and Ford Canada have been awesome enough to loan me and my friends vehicles to get to social media conferences.

SPONSORED POSTS

There are opportunities out there for one off sponsored posts.  Maybe it’s in exchange for product, maybe it’s in exchange for money, but it’s not a long term commitment to endorsing a company on your blog.

Sometimes these happen in conjunction with advertisers.  One one of my blogs anyone who commits to 3 or more months of advertising also gets an introductory post and a chance to host a giveaway on the blog.

The biggest key with these is that they are disclosed as sponsored posts, generally with a statement that the thoughts are still your own.

USE YOUR EXPERIENCE


The way that I have made the most money from my experience blogging, on Twitter, etc is by capitalizing on the experience and knowledge I have gained.  I share that knowledge with people who want to be in the space by holding workshops, by coaching people and by going to events as a speaker.

There are many opportunities like that that you can create for yourself.  Pitch your writing to publications, offer your services to companies for their own blogs and web sites. Barter your writing services for their services (I know someone who bartered children’s classes for some writing and reviews for the business to use).

SELL SOMETHING

This is something I hope to do on this site in the coming year, provide online services and products people can buy.  Things like e-books, tutorial videos and online classes.

WHAT I WOULD LIKE TO SEE

- More opportunities for bloggers/people in the social space to advise companies on what works and what doesn’t.

- More opportunities to create specialized content - videos, posts, etc that can go on the companies’ sites as well as other locations online (like Facebook, google plus, YouTube, etc)

- More opportunities from companies that involve more than some free product.  There are a lot of people who would be happy to have some free product but there are more people who would love a bit of extra income to help pay the bills.

What are your opinions on and experiences with monetizing?

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