Your guide to a successful online business!

Every business out there is investing time and money into getting their brand and products in front of their target audience. Stats show that marketers are expected to spend $540 billion (£353 billion) globally on advertising in 2015, with significantly bigger budgets allocated to digital advertising compared to previous years. In addition, the majority of marketers (59%) are using social media for six hours or more each week to promote their brands and engage with their customers and prospects.

When it comes to the web, many businesses are choosing to market their products and services through Facebook and Twitter ad campaigns while others are doing email marketing or PPC or both. While these can all be efficient tools for enticing people to buy, there is one thing that businesses aren’t investing enough in: customer care.

Help, not hype

If you want to outpace your competitor’s monster-marketing budget, you need to invest in the right things, and the most valuable one is excellent customer care. With the rise of social media and online reviews, the most important thing you can do as a brand is to help your customers. You can help by using your knowledge and expertise because you’re an expert in your particular field.

When you do your best to provide your prospects with all the information they need, when you answer their questions and provide the how-tos they need, they’ll remember your name. Next time they need your business or they’re asked for a recommendation from friends or family, they’ll think of you because you’ve been helpful to them in the past.

The basic idea is this: excellent customer service is the equivalent of good marketing. In fact, everything you do to help your customers is marketing. The blog posts, the webinars, the infographics, the genuine helpful tips and advice on social media, they’re all marketing.

Go beyond the minimum

All brands use social media to market their products and services. However, there are some brands that go a step beyond and listen to what their customers are saying about their brand and respond to their questions and comments. Then there are also those brands (not many) that go ten steps beyond the minimum.

Marketer Ann Handley shared a great example of a brand that went beyond the minimum. In her post, Twitter helps me get my lost book back, and what you can learn from it, Ann explains how she lost her book on a JetBlue flight and how she got it back after sending the airline a tweet.

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Then she poses a great question:

“Was JetBlue’s rescue of my book customer service… or was it “marketing”? I’d say yes.”

Here’s another example from @HiltonSuggests, a Twitter account dedicated to helping answer people’s travel questions, no matter where they’re from and whether they’re Hilton customers or not. A quick scroll of their Twitter feed shows that they respond with tips and advice to travellers and even to people with questions that aren’t necessarily related to travel.

You might ask: why are they investing time into answering these questions if they’re not always related to their business? The answer is simple: they’re counting on the fact that you’ll be travelling at some point. And that you might think of Hilton when you book your hotel because they’ve been so helpful.

You don’t need to be a popular brand with a big advertising budget to be able to match this level of customer service and reap the benefits. All you need is to set some time aside to monitor people’s questions and comments about your brand and your industry, and a few free tools to make this task less time-consuming.

Here’s what you need to do:

  1. Monitor mentions of your brand. This allows you to see what people are saying about your brand so you can quickly respond to their feedback, questions and comments.
  2. Monitor keywords in your niche market. This enables you to be proactive as even though some questions aren’t addressed specifically to you, you can still join the conversation and be helpful with tips and advice. This is your chance to build authority by sharing your knowledge and expertise.

We’ve previously written a post about brand mentions that also includes six excellent tools for monitoring mentions of your brand as well as any other keywords you’re interested in keeping an eye on.

Wrapping up

What business owners need to understand is that marketing is no longer about “pushing” your products and services, but about “pulling” people towards you with helpful information and content. The best way to market your brand is to be useful to your community on a consistent basis without the expectation of selling them something immediately.

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