mconter

Gathering Effective Client Testimonials

We’ve all heard it time and time again: “Collect testimonials from your satisfied clients!” And yet, so often as business owners, we ignore this sage advice, or the ‘tyranny of the urgent’ takes over and we don’t make the time to gather these important words of satisfaction. Just like anything else in our businesses, remembering to do things is made much easier if it is part of our process. Collecting testimonials should be part of our customer satisfaction process, and repeated with every client. Here is an easy process for collecting testimonials. testimonials, client testimonials, customer testimonials

Show your appreciation for your clients from the beginning – Create an onboarding process to celebrate your new clients. Help them to feel special, appreciated, and excited to work with you. Surprise them with a gift letting them know you are grateful for their business, and include gratitude for them all the way along.

Strike while the iron is hot – ask for a testimonial when you’ve begun to deliver quality work/results. If you are selling a product, ask them for a testimonial upon receiving it. If you are a service provider, request the testimonial once you have begun to deliver quality service and/or results. Don’t wait until the end of your delivery process to ask for testimonials and referrals.

Make it easy for them – oftentimes, people resist writing testimonials because it seems like a large task, or they don’t know exactly what you want them to say. This tends to result in weak testimonials, such as “Meghann is awesome, I loved coaching with Meghann.” Although those are nice words, there is no “meat on those bones” for future prospects to sink their teeth into.

Give them some questions to answer that will help them in writing the testimonial, and then ask them for permission to use all/parts of their answers. Here are some questions you can ask to help gather a benefit-oriented testimonial:

What were the biggest problems you feel you hired me to help you solve?
What have I helped you with specifically to make your life/business better?
What results have you seen thus far?
Would you recommend me to your friends, and if so, why?
Ask any other questions you feel will support you in gaining future ideal clients.

Ask for visual enhancementsvideo/audio/photo – It will always increase the value of the testimonial to have it on video/audio. If you can’t get either of these, then ask for a photo so that you can include it with your testimonial. Yes, testimonials have been accompanied by photos for decades, and there’s a reason for that, as trust comes easier when someone can identify words with a ‘real’ person.

Repurpose the testimonials you gather. Once they send you their testimonials and you have edited them to make them short, sweet and to the point, put them on your website. Then, ask the people who wrote them for you to also post them to your LinkedIn profile as Recommendations and Facebook page as a Review. Use the best testimonials on sales pages, flyers, in email marketing campaigns, and on social media.

Rinse and Repeat.

What do you think? What have testimonials done to help you in business?

gathering effective testimonials

How does Authenticity Look on You?

What if you were to be more of you every moment of every day?

To let your light shine through?

The truth is, most people are afraid to let their true selves out because…

  • No one will like them
  • They will be judged (and that hurts)
  • Maybe they don’t even feel like they love themselves very much; why would anyone else?

Dr Seuss Be who you are

I’m on a crusade. A personal crusade to let more and more of the real Meghann out. To allow myself to evolve, shift and change as my intuition guides me. To forgive myself (for whatever ‘wrongs’ I have judged myself for doing). And most of all, to love myself more and more every day.

Going on crusades for others doesn’t really work that well. However, the more that I BE me, the more that I see that reflected in those I care about who surround me. It’s like they are more comfortable to be themselves because I am.

The truth is, people will judge you – no matter what. In fact, when you begin to be more of you – the true, divine you (not your lower ego self) – the judgments from outsiders may even increase for a period of time. You will surely make some people uncomfortable (mainly because they don’t know what to do around someone who is truly being authentically them.) You could continue to make yourself small, or to act like someone else, but that feels creepy too, right? And how’s that working out for you?

If you’re like I was several years ago and you feel ‘on the fence’ about liking yourself, there is hope! For me, it was going on a spiritual journey, which led me in a big circle, letting go of years of content, self-judgment, self-sabotage, self-(you name it)… full circle right back to me. I now feel happy in my own skin, at home in myself. Loving me (most of the time) greatly, which leads to a plethora of love to then give out to others.

As a marketing coach, this step in my path is also crucial to my success and the success of my clients. In order to represent ourselves accurately, we must first be ourselves fully, right? Right!

And I’m excited, because this journey is never ending. It’s called life. And I’m in this body for another 60 years or so :-) So I may as well really be ME!!

I would love to hear your story – do you feel like you’re always BEing the true you? 

In times passed, when you have stepped into being more of YOU, how did that feel?

Meghann laughing YEAH!A special thanks to my uber talented friend and photographer, Sarah Perkins, who did such an amazing job capturing the authentic me!

mconter on Make A Gif

make animated gifs like this at MakeAGif

What You Resist Persists

I was speaking with someone who is very close to me today and realized that this conversation comes up in similar ways all the time with my friends/family. And I notice this conundrum internally often as well. The conversation started with her saying “why do I suck at this so badly.” The topic of conversation doesn’t matter. What matters is the fact that she has expressed multiple times wanting to change this about herself.

Herein lies the problem – what you resist persists. Continue to judge yourself for something and it will be that much more difficult to shift, like self-extraction from quicksand.

make your reality

So I say:

“Don’t judge yourself for what you are or are not. Choose differently, take baby steps, and make your life the reality you desire it to be.”

This does not mean you need to change. This does not mean that you are perfection just as you are right now. It means that if you constantly are bumping up against a challenge, your heart is crying out for some expansion in a new direction.

Ask for guidance, listen to the messages, and take one step at a time in the direction your heart and soul tell you to go.

Be careful, in transition times, you may feel strange. Maybe a void. Maybe a bit like wearing frozen underwear. It’s space. Space created that is necessary in order to expand. Don’t try to fill that space with old familiarity. Rather, live in the ‘uncomfortable’ and know that it is not wrong. It’s transformation and expansion working. Let them work on your behalf.

Continue to ask for guidance, listen to the messages, and move forward with your heart’s words.

Thoughts?

How to Perform a Blog Post Brainstorm and Why

It often happens to many business owners after meeting with an online/content marketing strategist – the deer in headlights look – when they are presented with their strategy, part of which states that they should implement “2,000 new words on their website a month” or “write a new blog post each week.” The immediate response for many is paralysis, or “what the heck am I going to talk about” or “there’s no way I have that much interesting stuff to say.”

Because I’m one of those nice strategists who usually prescribes the above mentioned strategy, I created this “How To” blog that will give you a process for a) coming up with relevant topics and b) implementing them.

First step, take a deep breath.

Second, know you can do this.

Step by Step, baby steps.

1. Get to know your target audience. Need help doing this part? Read my Target Market blog post here.

2. Visualize your avatar (your ideal client.)

3. Get out an old-fashioned notebook and pen, or open a new document on your computer

3. Begin creating lists for the following items

  • Frequently Asked Questions – yes, there are millions of them. You know, the things that every prospect asks you when they are inquiring about your services/products. And the questions that every client asks along the way. Yes, those.
  • What were they feeling before they hired you? What were the problems they were running away from? What were they calling out for help with?
  • What are the top pleasures they are running toward? What are the goals they are trying to achieve by using your service?
  • As for your past clients, what did they love most about your process? When they sang/sing your praises, what do they say about you? What are the biggest results they achieved in working with you, both tangibly and emotionally?
  • What do they care most about in life, in general?
  • What do they fear most in life, in general?
  • What are the things I love to talk about most? What are my interests both with regard to my profession and in my life?

Now that you’ve taken your time and answered these questions, you should have a good list sitting right there in front of you. Sweet! You’ve got a great beginning.

4. Look at these topics and begin to create a new category called “magnetizing blog post titles.”

At this point, I would recommend using the Google Keyword Planner Tool to see which items get more searches and put them in order. But that’s a bit more advanced, and a topic for a different blog post.

In order to create blog post titles, you want to take into consideration the keywords that achieve high search results, AND, most importantly, you want to create “magnetizing titles” (titles that are interesting, informative, and magnetizing for your ideal client.)

Here’s an example. You are a career coach and you have determined that your target audience is goal-driven professional women in the medical and financial industries (optometrists, health practitioners, dentists, financial advisors, bankers.) Here are a few of your brainstormed topics from above:

Topics:

Self-Confidence

Time Management

“Magnetizing Titles”

Self-Confidence – Stop Self-Sabotaging and Start Living Vibrantly

Honoring YOU; 5 Simple Changes to your Work Life to Give you More YOU Time

5, Now that you’ve got your “Magnetizing Titles,” put some bullet points beneath each topic so that you can remember when it comes time to write the post, what you were talking about ;-)

You could now  run these topics past your marketing strategist for their expert feedback.

Then, if you are a systematic person, you could put these titles into an editorial calendar. Or, if you are less systematic, then schedule a time each week or once a month where you can sit down and pull topics from your fabulous list and begin writing!

Your new list should provide you with quality content for at least a year. Don’t be afraid to add more topics to your list as you get asked more questions by your clients and prospects. There are truly endless amounts of content right in front of us, sometimes we just need to be reminded!

Adventures in Transformation

The first day of my trip this February, I was walking along the flagstone path, toward the beach, the sun was bathing me in glorious rays and the air was big and sweet as it is only in Hawaii. My higher self said, “you will be going through some huge transitions in the near future, buckle up, hold tight and keep listening. I adventured for seven days with my cousin in a place that I can only describe as “feeling like home” in every way possible. Every day was sun-kissed; from waking up with the birds early in the morning to watching the sun go down at night.

sunset

Kona sunset

Sunrise Hawaii

Kona Sunrise

 

Hawaii feels like pure love. I was talking about the air in Hawaii with a friend recently and we concluded that it is just so welcoming and loving, like it hugs you in its arms. It’s not overly muggy and suffocating; it is present ant loving. Hawaii embodies many of my values: Fun, Adventure, Unconditional Love, Growth & Expansion, Awareness, Abundance, and Health. When a place embodies your values, it’s easy to fall in love. Very easy.

Some of the highlights of our trip:

  • A dolphin swim along the Kona coast, snorkeling with two beautiful pods of 200+ spinner dolphins, followed by humpback whale watching
  • Hiking over lava fields to through valleys to secluded beaches to do more snorkeling
  • Climbing Banyan trees, crossing rivers, swimming under majestic waterfalls and cliff jumping
  • Tasty meals with new-found friends
  • Relaxing days by the pool, enjoying life to its fullest

Most importantly, for seven days, I did not work. Not one bit. I am so grateful that my cousin Danielle chose me to travel with her to Hawaii to celebrate her 30th birthday! Enjoy the visual vacation below:

Hawaii Collage

Bday dinner

A special thanks to our “local hosts” who showed us off-the-beaten-path Hawaii, and our awesome Aussie friend. We will meet again!

Returning or as I called it “reintegration,” was tough for both Danielle and me. It can be difficult to describe getting bit by the “travel bug,” which was definitely the case for both of us. But it was more than that. There was a point in the middle of our trip where we both looked at each other and without hesitation we both said, “this feels like home. True home. It’s going to be really tough to leave, isn’t it?!”

Since coming home, both Danielle and I have gone through some tough transition, although I don’t like labeling it as ‘tough’ because change is change and change is good. I know more about what I am creating in life and what it takes to get me there. By no means do I feel like this transitional period is over. I continue to listen to my higher self and take one. step. at. a. time. Trusting that I am fully supported.

Some of the places we visited on our stay and definitely recommend!

Hilton Waikoloa
Pololu Valley
Sunlight on Water
Rainbow Falls
Kealakekua Bay
Da Poke Shack
Roy’s
Full Moon Cafe

No, You May Not Pick My Brain!

I get this request often. And from what I can tell, other consultants and coaches who charge a fee for their knowledge and information do too.

can-I-pick-your-brainMy living is based on the expertise that I have developed for the last 10+ years. Well, built over the last 30+ years actually. (Now that I’ve dated myself!) I invest a lot of time and money in continuing education, reading, memberships, and conferences to stay on top of what’s important in my industry. When someone that’s not my friend or family member asks, “Can I pick your brain?” it’s akin to this situation:

Person goes to the doctor and says, “Hey, could you take a look at my throat and tell me what’s wrong? I don’t even have to come into an exam room, you could just do it here in the waiting room. Here, ahhhhhh.” 

Think doc would pull out his tongue depressor?

One of my favorite stories along these lines was when a financial advisor asked me if he could pick my brain over lunch. I wanted to say, “Sure, if you’re cool with putting a couple hundred dollars in an annuity for me and calling it good.”

I charge paying clients money for my strategies, which save them thousands of hours and countless dollars. Does a lunch at the local deli equate to that value? Nope, sorry. Besides, if you want the answers to your problems that tends to take more than an hour of my time. What kind of an expert would I be if I could give you all the answers in one sandwich-sit-down?

When someone is a subject matter expert and a coach/consultant, they get paid to give their clients their knowledge.  Instead of asking to pick their brain, try one or more of these strategies instead.

Read their blog. Look back through the archives of the consultant’s blog, Facebook profile, LinkedIn feed, etc. Ask them to share a recording of a previous free webinar or free call. Ask if they already have material on the subject you’re inquiring about. Who knows, they might have answered your questions before and turned it into an article like I did with this one: http://bit.ly/HowToCreateAFacebookPage.

GTS. This is my favorite self-made acronym. Google That S***! If your questions can really be picked out of an expert’s brain “real quick,” then chances are Google has the answer.

Ask about fees and how they operate. You might find they give you the answers you’re looking for in a thirty- to sixty-minute initial consultation that they offer for free anyway.

~~~~

Some other notes:
1. I’m not talking about close friends or family; chances are, when they ask for brain-picking, we give it to them, because they give back to us in many ways.
2. When people asked me this question 5 years ago (new in my business) I would jump at the chance to answer them, thinking if I helped them with this, they would hire me. What I found a vast majority of the time was this – if they wanted it for free in the first place, they aren’t willing to pay for it.
3. If your business model isn’t a coaching/consulting model, this rant probably doesn’t speak to you as much; that’s cool!

~~~~

I wanted to see what my colleagues (other subject matter experts and consultants) had to say about this topic. Looks like I’m not alone!

“I usually tell them to go on one of my free webinars that I run monthly; or listen to my podcast. I tell them that chances are they will get the answer to their question and more, all for free. If I did a coffee date or answered every email question from people that I received, I would never have enough time for paying clients.” –podcasting coach and lifestyle entrepreneur expert

“Mixed feelings. Usually I feel like it’s a typical “free loader” who wants your expertise to give them your services (or contacts) for free. And then there are times I feel like it could be a possible new connection.” –career coach

“Hate it. Of course. I encourage people to ask a more specific question and NOT to ask for a coffee. Anyone whose time is valuable hates that question.” –business coach

“That question usually makes me think they want me to work for free. I think I’m flattered and annoyed at the same time. If it’s someone I know or who truly expresses interest in my services, I’m happy to help cause who knows where that conversation may lead.” –content writer

~~~~

What do you think? What are some alternatives to asking the can-I-pick-your-brain question?

Peg Calvario Gets Clear On One Thing: How to Attract Ideal Clients

For 25 years Peg Calvario (PegCalvario.com) worked with her husband to run their family-owned business in the fitness industry. After selling that business five years ago she decided to move on to a new venture—coaching for professionals—but was surprised when her marketing didn’t come as easy as before.

“I had a lot of experience in social media and writing blogs from my former business, but this time around I couldn’t seem to find my voice,” Peg said. Peg Calvario

Then Something Pivotal Happened – Identifying a Tribe

Meghann Conter’s coaching clients almost always go through a vigorous tribe-identifying process. Peg was no different. While we did work together on messaging, social media profiles, and zeroing in on potential clients with email capture forms and teleclass development, each of those pieces hinged on identifying her new tribe: GOAL-DRIVEN PROFESSIONALS.

“Now I can articulate a crystal clear message to my tribe, especially as it relates to my process. And, as a result, my content marketing comes so much easier and faster,” Peg explained.

Social Media Marketing Is Only What You Can See. What About What You Can’t See?

I may be the Mistress of Social Media® and believe strongly in the power of social media, but I also believe that success does not lie in social media alone. That’s only the piece your clients can see.

The pieces they can’t see are what drive your business. I’m talking about a marketing foundation (messaging, voice, packaging, pricing, promotion methods and processes) you can stand on and a marketing plan you can execute easily. Once you have these two items in place, the magnetic content—and the financial results—will come…just like it did for Peg.

Peg said she now feels better about her marketing and being able to implement it with greater ease, but it’s more than that. The results speak volumes.

Her SEO has improved thanks to targeted blog posts. In fact, she recently got a call from the US Naval Safety Center, an outstanding opportunity, after they found her website. On top of that, she has acquired clients from both Facebook and LinkedIn since sprucing up her profiles with content that attracts her ideal clients.

“Meghann over delivers,” Peg said. “She consistently provided value, even sending me notes from our meetings, and connecting me with valuable resources, and was never someone who focused on cost. She really did a great job.”

Peg Calvario

2013; A Reflection in Photos

I was wondering why it felt so difficult to write this blog post. Or to send Christmas cards. I mean, all that’s required is that I give people a little bit of insight into what 2013 brought for me. Then I remembered, I have transformed so much this year and time is pretty relative for me. I live in the presence so much that reflecting on the past or projecting in to the future brings me out of bliss.

“If you are depressed you are living in the past.
If you are anxious you are living in the future.
If you are at peace you are living in the present.” Laozi

I have ultimate gratitude for the incredible individuals who contributed to my professional, personal and spiritual growth this year and celebrate everything we all accomplished together. I truly have the most phenomenal professional community, friends, and family who love me for exactly who I am. Thanks to the spiritual journey I have taken, I no longer feel the need to change or the need to be any different because I have beautiful, unconditional self-love.

If you are still reading, thank you for being my friend and my supporter. The following is a photo collage of some of my fun adventures this year.

I LOVE my friends and continuously adventure with them!

I had numerous fun speaking engagements throughout 2013

I had numerous fun speaking engagements throughout 2013

Family Christmas 2013

Family Christmas 2013

My parents and me, Christmas 2013
My parents and me, Christmas 2013

 

 

 

I work out at Blunt Force Training with some of Denver's best trainers

I work out at Blunt Force Training with some of Denver’s best trainers

Me, Joe Pulizzi and Alexandra Briggs at Social Media Marketing World 2013

 

 

My sweetie and I went to Chicago to visit his family

My sweetie and I went to Chicago to visit his family

I host events for Certus Professional Network and serve the President of the FRICAH 3to5 Club

 

I facilitated the first Denver Social Media Marketing Mastermind - the most amazing group of women

I facilitated the first Denver Social Media Marketing Mastermind – the most amazing group of women

I adventured in  Puerto Vallarta with some friends

I adventured in Puerto Vallarta with some friends

 

Nate and I adopted the world's cutest puppy, Layla, a retriever- terrier mix

Nate and I adopted the world’s cutest puppy, Layla, a retriever- terrier mix

 

Target Market: Why Do I Need One? How Do I Get One?

If you follow my blog (and you should :-)), you know that I talk about your tribe* often. Your tribe* is the group of people you influence. They are your brand champions, your friends, your fans, your clients, and your prospects. Without your tribe, you don’t have a business.

The narrower you get when describing and then marketing to your target audience, the easier, more effective, and less costly your marketing will be. If you try the “spray and pray” method, you will waste your two most precious resources – time and money. Unless, of course, you have a marketing budget the size of Starbucks’. (Didn’t think so.)

Target Market Target Audience
The natural next questions are

  • how do I know who my target market is?
  • what do I need to know about them?

Determining a target market for an existing business

This process is a bit easier, in my honest opinion (IMHO), if you have been in business for more than a year and a half-ish because you can look at past client demographics and data and narrow down from there. Looking at this data is much easier if you have a CRM (Customer Relationship Management) system that tracks important information about your clients.

Hint: if you are just starting out in business now, get a CRM system (which can be as simple as an Excel spreadsheet) and keep track of important client data. Here’s a list of data to track, but add to this list as it makes sense to your business.

Age
Sex
Income level
Education level
Are they local/national/international?
What industry do they work in?
What is their position there?
What is their family situation (you are looking for common threads here like divorced, moms, dads, etc.)?

Where do you get this information? Some of it will be guess work, and some you can obtain from LinkedIn. I would also consider making note of who your ideal clients were and using their data over those who weren’t.


Next, what are the psychographic pieces of information? For this part, I recommend you bring up the top five clients you’ve worked with in your business over the last year or so. Then answer these questions based on them.


What were they feeling before they hired you? What were the problems they were running away from? What are the top pleasures they are running toward? What were they calling out for help with?
What did they love most about your process? When they sang/sing your praises, what do they say about you?
What are the biggest results they achieved in working with you, both tangibly and emotionally?
What do they care most about in life, in general?
What do they fear most in life, in general?


There are many more questions that can be taken into account at this point in the process, depending on your business, your industry, whether you are B2B or B2C, and more. After you have given much thought to this information, and written it down, you can now draw the parallels and see the commonalities between the people you love to serve.


What you should come up with on the other side looks something like what I’ve done here to describe my client Mallory, who is a reflexologist and healer:
Denver-based single women, 35-55 years old, educated and professional (career women), who is overwhelmed, swamped, and seeking instant relief from daily stress; typical industries her clients fall within: marketing, authors, speakers, those who travel a lot for work.


Determining your target market for a new business


If you are new in your business, your process is going to look a lot different. Google will be your best friend, as will other people who are experienced in your industry with your products or services. You may also be doing a bit more testing than determining, initially.


My client Sara is an author and her genre of writing is somewhere between Paranormal Romance and Sci-Fi. She began doing research and found a gold mine of statistics here. http://www.rwa.org/p/cm/ld/fid=582 This kind of data is invaluable, and you can likely find some of your own.

She also started reaching out to other writers with books and styles similar to hers and asked to do “informational interviews” with them. She asked questions about the kinds of people who come to their book signings and who write to them as raving fans of their work. Some of these people were not receptive to talking with her, but plenty of others were willing help!


In the end


Looking at, tweaking, and refining your target market is a continuous process. Your tribe will shift and change as your business evolves.

* Target market = tribe = target audience



Stop the Self Flagellation, People!!

Target Market Catapult