How to convert more clients at the first consultation? The magic staircase

_________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Does it ever happen to you that you had a nice consultation with a client, you spent some time with them but they didn’t sign up for your services or products? Of course, there will be other clients. However, we would like to explain to you that there will be some other reasons why they didn’t sign up. Maybe they were not ready to buy your full service or product yet. Maybe they might not be aware of the problem that you’re solving. Maybe they might be not at the same stage as you are. At this point, a product staircase could come in the picture. 

In this blog post, we will talk about the product staircase. What it is and how to build one for your business. 

Basically what you do in business or in marketing is that you take the prospective client by the hand, at the bottom of the staircase and you walk them up, step by step to the top which is the point you are making the profit, making them a happy customer. There is not just one grade in the stairs but there are several. You have to take every single one of them seriously. 

So we are starting from the bottom of the stairs;

Awareness 

This is the stage where you have to make them aware of the fact that you are actually. If you tell them to buy something at this stage, the response will probably be “No thanks.” You usually need a cheaper entry-level product or even better, something for free. This is the stage that those products will be webinars, PDFs, events on one niche area. A service which will give them a taste of what you do. But be careful, this is not a simplified or poorer version of what you do. This should give them a high value. They should see this: Even for the free product, you are giving them something valuable. What is good with webinars and publishing a book, is that you can talk to groups easily. It’s very easy for them to step up at this stage. If they don’t sign up, and this may happen, it means that they don’t really need it, so no worries. 

Consideration

Now, they have seen what you can do, they have seen the problems and their solving, your service. This is the stage where they are not fully committed to buying your service but getting familiar with it. If you offer them something that would be so easy to buy, like free trials, you can give them something to say “Yes” easily. At this stage, your product is an entry product so make sure to keep the price low. Also, keep this in mind, they can easily refer you at this stage. Which is a perfect advantage for your business.

Purchase

By this stage they will understand what you do, understand how you are different so they won’t ask you the price-related questions because they already know the answer. They can see the value you are offering to them. It means that it is time for the core product. Complex and profitable. 

Advocacy

Ok, they are now clients. Many clients will want to buy more from you, be a VIP or premium version of what you do. Create a product just for them. We would like to call this a premium product, with the highest profit. Around 20-30% of your clients will be ready to step up. You can give them even better service or something extra and they will pay you more.  

What are the common mistakes? 

So the fact is, many businesses make the mistake of not having Awareness and Consideration stage, which means the clients are not ready to jump up to the Purchase stage. They will lose clients and generally, the lost-clients will directly go to the competitor. Skipping the Advocacy stage is also a common mistake. Many of the businesses don’t have premium products. Therefore, make sure to have all these stages. One step further is a membership. One step further is a client. One step further is the highest profit. Never think you don’t need it. You need all these steps.

Pricing? 

Once you are ready with these stages then you think of the pricing and products. Marketing doesn’t start with communication. It starts with the right product staircase, then communication. So it’s time for organic and paid commercials. Don’t be mislead, even if your product is a service you should be able to productise what you offer. Think of your product staircase, how you can meet your prospective client at where they are at not where you are. Think with their heads and you will get this done!


This article was written by Timea Kadar, Chief Marketing Strategist of Francis Cooper based on the thoughts of other professionals duly quoted. Timea has 21 years of experience in marketing working as a marketing lead at large corporations and a marketing mentor at smaller ventures and start-ups. If you’d like to know the marketing strategies for your business, contact her at tk@franciscooper.com

LEAD LinkedIn Strategy

LinkedIn Strategy

What are the main LinkedIn user types, what to do to be seen as a leader on LinkedIn and to get leads out of it, how to build a strategy that you can easily follow? In this post, we are going to answer all these questions for you to make your LinkedIn experience worthy. 

4 types of LinkedIn users 

-Sales Pitcher 

This type of users is reaching out for you to sell their services from messages, sending you sales pitches or some quick call all the time. Sometimes they are even chasing you and we are all overwhelmed by this type of users. Aren’t we? 

-Ghost

This type of users is connecting with you on LinkedIn and then disappear. They never comment, they never post, you can’t engage with them because they are not there. 

-Social Butterfly 

This type of users is closest to the best, we can say. They are posting, they have an opinion about everything, they post about everything not only their businesses. You know they are there however, they don’t think of the main goal of LinkedIn. They don’t have a strategy and that is the problem. 

-LinkedIn Strategist  

This type of users is aware of what they are doing. They don’t spend too much time to search for what to post, how to comment. Because they already have a strategy and this is so rare. 

You should think LinkedIn as a platform to grow your business. Therefore, the things you need to do on this platform shouldn’t be different from your real-life business strategy. For example, if you go to a networking event, would you go and directly talk about yourself? You should build a relationship with people on LinkedIn who either become your client or lead you to that. And generally, vice versa. So let’s dive deep into the LEAD LinkedIn Strategy. 

Link to connections

Engage with your audience

Assist others

Develop the relationship

-Link to connections 

There are 2 types of connections you need to have on LinkedIn. The first one is just people you know. Even if they are not your target audience, even if they can’t become your clients they know people who know people. So if you are in front of them they may refer you. But make sure your profile is ready to connect! 

The second one is your target audience. In this group, you can build a strategy to connect with your clients or people who can lead you to them. Be mindful and strategic and connect with those who will be good for your business even if you don’t know them.

-Engage with your audience

So you have already connected with the right people, now it’s time to be in front of them. Which means, to post. You don’t have to and you should not post every day. We recommend you to post once a week or two. Let them see you. You can also set up events on LinkedIn, you can run webinars, you can set up your group, a page so they can engage with you easily. 

-Assist others 

You can start by commenting on other people’s posts so you can build a relationship with them. By doing this, you are also in front of their connections. Also, you can write a recommendation about your connections, which may be so helpful while you are building your relationships. 

-Develop the relationship

You are doing a business on LinkedIn so don’t be shy to act like it. Set up a meeting! Meet with those people you have already built a relationship with. Get to know each other, develop your relationship further. 

Content Cube for LinkedIn 

  1. Educate your connections on any subject
  2. Tell a story
  3. Offer something that will make your connections closer to you
  4. Testimonial 

Divide your month into four, so basically choose one of the contents above and post each of them for a week. 4 weeks, 4 contents. Set your monthly calendar and stay committed to it. Use text, photo, video or slides.  We promise you will get the results back shortly. 


Four steps on how to book high-profile people to be your clients, speakers, partners

In this blog post, we are going to touch these points:

  • What you can achieve by booking high-profile people
  • The method I used to get in touch with Apple, Tesla, Forbes, Economist
  • The four steps of the process

What can you achieve? 

Clients

You can have clients; big clients at big companies. London Marketing Academy is an example for them. I reached out to them, I didn’t sit and wait for them to reach out to me. 

Partnerships

I had events with the marketing club at Apple, Tesla and Hay Hills. I didn’t pay for these events it was a partnership and it was a perfect experience.

Speakers

 I had fantastic speakers from Adidas, Google, Uber. 

Press

Yes, you can also get into the press even if you don’t pay them or if you don’t have a PR. If you have a good story it means you can be published in the press. I or my clients were published in Forbes and Economist. 

The four steps of the process

  1. Mindset 
  2. Preparation
  3. Contact 
  4. Follow up 

Mindset

Without the right mindset, it won’t happen. Never forget this: As human beings we are equal. Some of the people have a higher reputation but they are still human. So it doesn’t mean you can’t reach out to the directors or people who have achieved something good. You have to believe in your proposal. You have to believe that you are at the same level as human beings. Also remember, never apologise for reaching out. Be confident. Don’t miss the opportunities while you’re thinking they won’t get back to you. Because they will. When you have a big name it’s easier to reach out to others. 

Preparation

Simply, copy-paste emails won’t work. You should know these people’s perspective. Imagine how many emails they receive and try to fit in there. Try to see their needs, their wants. Also, buy from them. In some cases, it can really help that you can approach them based on something that you have already tried. If you can’t, then at least read, watch, listen from them. The most dishonest thing is when somebody is telling you they love everything you share but never engage with it. It should be visible that you are supporting them. A fantastic way is to attend conferences. Always easier to reach out with this opportunity, highlighting something from the conference and complimenting on that. 

Contact 


Cold E-mail

Don’t start it like everybody else. When you want to grab attention, cliches won’t work. Don’t be too formal, not too chatty. Write as you chat. Start with telling them briefly who you are and why you want them. Be honest. Make a value-led proposal. Don’t forget these are all companies and they all want clients. If you find out how they get clients, how they get business and how you can help them with that it will help you with this process. Keep this in mind: High profile people want to be in front of people and you are offering them this. You can add an optional CTA at the end of your e-mail. In some cases, it would be pushy but offering some options may also be good.

The Trojan Horse 

I’d like to call this a Trojan Horse but of course, we are not being the enemy here. You can always invite those people to an interview. Tell them who is listening, what are topics, why you want them. You can ask them to speak or contribute to a book. If you want to approach specific job title like HR directors you can ask them for research or ask them for their insights to validate your product. Always think with their head. 

Follow up 

You have to follow up several times. People are busy. Lots of emails got forgotten. You can reach out to them again and it won’t hurt anyone. Refer to potential bad timing, ask them to confirm what they think about your invitation. You can also tell them how you proceed. Ask for contact or tell them to refer you the right direction.

You shouldn’t invite people just for the brand. The audience is always first. 


This article was written by Timea Kadar, Chief Marketing Strategist of Francis Cooper based on the thoughts of other professionals duly quoted. Timea has 21 years of experience in marketing working as a marketing lead at large corporations and a marketing mentor at smaller ventures and start-ups. If you’d like to know more ways to find high-profile people and invite them for your business, contact her at tk@franciscooper.com

Five Hollywood plots every story can be boiled down to

No marketing conference is complete without at least one (but usually more) speaker pointing out how important storytelling is in your marketing toolkit. But as we go back to work to start to write a story, the question comes up: ok, but how to craft a story that sells? Just copy the techniques of Hollywood blockbusters.

The power of story in marketing is obvious and the reasons are discussed intensively elsewhere so I won’t go into that. Instead, I will show you a list of easy-to-adapt templates which – apart from above the average email campaigns – brought me a one-page article in Forbes, a TEDx talk, speaking at the Digital Marketing Innovation Summit in London – just to mention a few.

 At first sight, storytelling doesn’t seem to be difficult, we tell stories and listen to stories every day, multiple times. But our customer (and by customer I also mean editor/potential partner/investor) doesn’t have to be polite to listen to us, nor did they pay for listening to us as we pay to watch a film. So they will abandon us as soon as it is of no interest to them.

Therefore, at the end of the day, the story should be about the reader: to teach, inform, and convince them in an entertaining way. To build powerful stories let’s follow examples that worked already: the blockbuster Hollywood films. Your stories don’t have to be long though, you can do it in a few sentences.

Pretty woman

Use this: if you want to show progress, results, achievement, credibility.

Where: About section of your homepage, presentation about your company, showing results your clients achieved

 Plot: hero with high potential and limited financial circumstances has a big dream and makes it come true.

How you can use it: show a goal – which should be challenging enough – you or your client wanted to achieve, even better if nobody believed in it. Then present how they succeeded.

Real-life example: ‘When speaking at a conference I made a promise to the audience that I will get published in Forbes magazine within a year and will document the steps I take. I sent the first email the next day and I was published in the next issue.’

 Armageddon

Use this: if you want to show how your company and services are different from the rest, show USP or if you want to emphasise the problem your service solves.

Where: in eDM, about section, social media post

Plot: devastating danger approaches but superhero Bruce Willis steps in to save the world

How you can use it: talk about the weaknesses of most competitors in your industry – you don’t have to name the companies – and how you do it differently. Another option to show the big problem of your customers and how you, the superhero solve it.

Real-life example: ‘I am so upset to have just heard from a friend who booked an amazing hotel room for their wedding anniversary, to find out on the plot that they have to sleep in a musty basement. This is why I started my travel consultancy to make sure my clients have a more amazing stay than in their dreams.’

 Hitch

Use this: if you want to show concerns about your service or industry and want to demonstrate it’s not true in your case. You can also present a testimonial where your client says how much they didn’t believe in your service and finally how much it helped them.

Where: eDM, FAQ section, video

Plot: beautiful woman and handsome man hate each other but then they fall in love.

Real-life example: ‘I hear people saying that insurance is expensive and insurance companies eventually never pay you. Just last year we paid xxxx to our xx clients to compensate for their damages.’

Back to the Future

Use this: if you want your audience to imagine their future, to have a dream you can help them achieve

Where: company brochure, email, website, PPC

Plot: it shows the future and makes you think about the future. Even if it seems impossible at present, show the customer how you will make it real. Or you can tell them step by step what happens when they sign the contract with you, how their life will change for the better.

Real-life example: ‘Your next birthday you keep receiving birthday wishes telling you how younger you look than your age. Suddenly Facebook pops up a photo from 3 years before and you are shocked to see how much younger you indeed look. You thank yourself for having used xxxx face treatment.’

Saving Private Ryan

Use this; if you want to show people what happens if they don’t use your service or product. You can showcase examples when clients turned to you after suffering a lot with other solutions – and what a relief it was.

Where: email, landing, FB ad

Plot: hero suffering, struggling and suffering but finally finds peace.

Real-life example: ‘You can go on the net and try to decide on your own which of the hundreds of tips will work in your case. You think it is free, but in fact, Mr x spent exactly xxx and lost the trust of all of his clients before turning to me. Now he hosts 1,000-member conferences and earns millions of dollars.’

The article was written by Timea Kadar, the lead of the Your Story™ Storytelling Program which helps business owners share their stories and engage with their clients. The program is launching on 28 January, be among the first ones to be notified about it, and get the best deal offer. Sign up here.

Marketing trends for 2021 (and looking back on my forecast for 2020)

To include some accountability I looked back at the predictions I made a year ago and checked how these have held up. Based on trend reports – including the one from the Chartered Institute of Marketing on Kantar’s forecast – and what I see as emerging, or ongoing trends. Brand design prediction for the year by brand strategist Caroline Somer shared at Marketing Megahits Festival in October. (Reading time: as long as you read 1,825 words.)

Full disclosure: I am no god, no magician, I can’t see the future. No human can. (But you can always call me names publicly if anything doesn’t happen like I said.)

A year ago we had the last face-to-face meeting of London Marketing Club at the prestigious Devonshire Club, where I talked about Marketing Trends for 2020. Internet connection at the venue broke at the last minute, so I had to deliver the presentation without the slides, but that was no problem, as I knew what was written on my slides by heart. I wrote them from my heart and talked from my heart, just as I do now.

The Marketing Trend 2020 presentation in January 2020. In the background the two gentlemen trying to fix Internet, with no results.

Nobody knew that in a few weeks it would be the least of our worry not having internet at a venue. The biggest worry was not having the venue at all (Devonshire Club went into administration as lockdown started in March). Not having anything the way we planned, expected, predicted. But we still carried on and here we are again, with a lot of the unknown ahead of us.

Strategic use of LinkedIn

A year ago a big part of my presentation was about the LEAD LinkedIn Strategy, and how to be a strategist on LinkedIn instead of spending a lot of time posting every day without a purpose (or even worse, not being present at all.)

Many people say that the surge in LinkedIn usage was due to covid and lockdown, I’m convinced it would have happened anyway, as already a year ago there was a rapidly growing interest and activity on the platform.

An increasing number of people joined our 30-day LinkedIn challenge each month since January, and as people started to see results, the number of (really good) posts have rocketed.

It will keep going this year, and even if there’s a rising concern LinkedIn being the next Facebook, story-led content will always be among the top ones.

It’s safe to predict that at some point LinkedIn will reduce the reach and we have to pay for it, it’s hard to say when, so let’s party until we can.

Storytelling in marketing

In spite of the regular mention of storytelling at industry events, it’s still the most underused content type. Probably as people find it hard to write these (nobody tells them how), and feel it’s too personal to share. Last year we saw a long due surge in sharing honest content with emotions, including failures along the successes, as failing in the wake of a pandemic doesn’t seem to be the fault of the author.

We could see the people behind the brands and could see the emotions of these people. I consider this a big leap, which will go on in 2021, and every business has to consider stepping out of their formal self (or even shelf?)

(To help this we’ll soon launch Your Story™, a 12-month storytelling program, sign up to be notified here.)

The rise of on-demand content

On-demand content providers have been blooming for some time, and the likes of Netflix, Amazon Prime, and newcomer AppleTv and Disney+ will be joined by Paramount+ next year. And it’s not just the big players: a small business Rogue Opera launched their VIP Opera Pass program offering on-demand opera productions after they had to pause their event-based services. 

However, it’s not only the film and music industry but also the business world. Several training companies, conference providers converted their products to the online world. The challenge now is to make sure people come back, bring other people with them, and use the platforms so that they renew their subscriptions.

On top of that, professionals who lost their businesses, started online courses, entering an already saturated market. This also changed the pricing picture and thus the pricing expectations of users.

Once sought-after events have become available for a few bucks, and it has become more difficult to communicate the difference between a lead gen webinar and a fully fledged training program or a VIP Membership program.

In 2021, I expect some stabilization in this area. Online training and conference platforms have invested a lot in developing systems with extra features, and it will become easier to add a difference to our service.

As we are more used to an online-only offering, people start to understand that just because it’s online, it’s not free (or low priced.)

Online training

Put the fun back into the funnel

Speaking of funnels, this was one of my predictions a year ago: the ‘traditional’ pushy sales funnels will be replaced by a more customer friendly and entraining path. This absolutely happened, as users have figured out that they are dropped into the funnel, and then are overwhelmed by the storm of emails and ads trying to push them down the way.

I’m not saying it’s not happening or it doesn’t still work like that for many providers, but it’s definitely not something that has the greatest potential. We have to be able to leave some money on the table and build long-term connections and work towards a more sustainable revenue model. A sales path is more like being a partner, and adviser, standing by our prospects and clients, and inviting them to (online) events, offering them value at each stage of the path. We still have to know and plan what the next stage is, but it’s more for them to reach out when they’re ready.

Social media and influencers

We’ve already mentioned LinkedIn, and could talk about this topic forever, but one thing we can all agree on is that Tik Tok is the one to watch. With provenly much higher and easier reach than in other social media channels it’s surely something to experiment with.

While Instagram influencers have become like what TV ads used to be: they have their management companies, retainer packages and ROI might be questionable. This is what peanut butter company Nerdy Nuts co-founder Craig Mount talks about in The Hustle magazine: while working with 18 Instagram influencers resulted in selling 107 jars, 2 Tik Tok influencers generated millions of views and sold 5,947 jars, and their sales ballooned.

WhatsApp has become more than a messaging service, it has become what used to be Facebook groups (at least in the UK), where communities meet and vividly interact with each other. I expect more functionality to be able to manage groups, and keep track of updates and shared documents. 

Online vs offline vs hybrid

Event marketing has become more liberal and more inclusive, as online events are cheaper to organise and can accept an unlimited number of attendees from anywhere in the world. At the same time it’s a challenge to keep people engaged and deliver the experience people are used to at offline events.

If this year at some point we – hopefully – can return to face-to-face events, organisers will want to keep the advantages of an online event too.

“Hybrid events have to offer a different – and better – value proposition vs the online-only or the offline-only versions. These events have a real future.” – says Marton Berze, CEO of The Underground marketing agency. They launched the Onlife event series in May 2020 and since then have run several other successful online events, which went beyond a simple online conference delivering a full experience to attendees.

Being hybrid also applies to eCommerce: personal styling company Stitch Fix invented it already 10 years ago. They deliver complete clothing outfits in their subscription service styled by algorithms based on data gathered from the customer. You order online but you still have the feeling of being in a shop and trying on clothing. You can return whatever you don’t like.

This kind of hybrid thinking will be a trend in 2021, to give customers an offline experience after making a purchase online.

Audio search

This was a big prediction by me a year ago. I was so excited having finished my one-year research on voice search and how to create content for all these voice assistants. I had a presentation about how these work and how these will change the way we consume – and the way we create – content.

Well, I was wrong.

It didn’t pick up the way I expected, at least not in mainstream marketing. Obviously, voice search is in use, (Apple launched HomePod Mini which is really affordable at £99), but the big breakthrough is still ahead of us. Content creators don’t focus on it yet, and now I’m cautious to say when – and if – they will.

What to put into the marketing mix in 2021?

This is a Facebook PAID ad by a FUNNEL company that promotes a program to generate leads WITHOUT having to spend on ADs and building FUNNELS…haha, very credible.

To answer the above question: both paid and organic tools are needed. Paid ads work and organic tools are amazing too – if used the right way – and this won’t change. 

What’s wrong is exactly this witch hunting of certain tools and methods to fool people.

It’s like a cake: the right proportion of several ingredients is needed to make it a yummy cake.

And a good deal of credibility and authenticity. This will never expire.

That’s the ‘secret’ recipe!

Testing and experimenting

And the good old mantra of testing. “[Around] 80%, 90% of your budget needs to be on what you know works, but you need to be testing and experimenting on the new channels…to find the next rich vein of performance,” says Mark Inskip, Kantar Media’s UK & Ireland CEO in the trend report published by the Chartered Institute of Marketing.

2021 might be the last full year of third-party cookies, as Google earlier announced that these will be phased out by 2022 (and replaced by other tracking systems).

Meanwhile, brands will have to focus on the gold mine they are sitting on: keeping track and understanding their own first-party data.

Brand design

As I’m a rookie at brand design, here are some golden nuggets from my friend, brand strategist Caroline Somer from Somer Design shared at her presentation at the Marketing Megahits Festival in October 2020.

  1. Muted colour palette

We are going to see more settled colours, more pastels and fewer neons this year. 

  1. Simple data visualisations 

Basic visualisations that people will get it straight away. No more confusion! (And vector illustrations like the ones you see attached to this post (I’m so trendy:)

  1. Serif fonts 

As in the 15th century

Wait, and what about email marketing?

I’m glad that you asked. It will live forever. Sign up for my weekly Profit and (G)Loss Newsletter and you will too:) (Well, not really, but you’ll enjoy it until you do.)

This trend article was written by Timea Kadar, Chief Marketing Strategist of Francis Cooper based on the thoughts of other professionals duly quoted. Timea has 21 years of experience in marketing working as a marketing lead at large corporations and a marketing mentor at smaller ventures and start-ups. If you’d like to know the marketing predictions for your business, contact her at tk@franciscooper.com

You can flip through the Trend report here:

Make your out of office message work for you: five creative ideas

Your out of office message is probably the most hard-working colleague you have ever had: diligently answers all messages right away. It reaches the sender when their attention is high, as they have just sent you an email and happy to get the response right away.

Why let them down and waste this fantastic opportunity by sending a boring out of office message, that nobody really opens, (apart from quickly checking the return date)? Below you’ll get a bunch of cool ideas on how to make better use of this often overlooked communication tool.

First things first

Before you get too creative, don’t forget that the main goal of the out of office message is to let the sender know:

  • that you are not able to take their message, it’s an automated message
  • if there is any replacement, who helps them while you’re away (if it applies)
  • when you’ll be able to answer. (Be generous with yourself when committing to the date when you get back to the person, and leave some time after you return. Anything is better than ‘as soon as possible’.)

Use a friendly tone

The out of office message is part of your communication, so no need to use a more official style than you normally use when talking to your clients. Use the same tone you would otherwise, the sender should feel that even if you’re not there, you care for them.

“I can’t believe I’m missing your message, but I [insert here what you’ll do at your holiday].” You can be personal, and write about your plans for the holiday (anything is better than “I’m currently out of the office.”)

“I’ll be so happy to find your email once I’m back, and I can’t wait to catch up with you [insert here when].” (Obviously, it’s just an example, use a friendly style that reminds the sender of you.)

“If your question can’t wait, please do me a favour, and forward your message to [contact person] who will be happy to take care of you.”

Make your Out of office message work for you

The sender is faced with a disappointment as you’re not available, so it’s time to sweeten the pill and give them something exciting (while increasing the engagement with your business.) Find a few ideas below.

#1 Share your latest post, video, article

While the sender reads your OOO message anyway, that’s the best place to offer them a really relevant and exciting post, article, video you created. This can be the latest one you prepared for this occasion, or you can pick an earlier one, the most important is the relevancy. (Like a year planner or a checklist.)

“I don’t want you to leave empty-handed, so before I left I prepared this [insert here the content topic] for you to read while I’m away.”

#2 Ask them to sign up for your email list

You can grow your database while being away from the office, how cool is that! It’s only possible however, if you give the sender a very – very – good reason to do so. If you plan to send something valuable (a trend report e.g.) for your database once you return, it’s a good idea to increase the excitement and invite senders to be among the first ones to receive it.

“Right after I return, I finalise our [insert here the content topic], and send it to all the lovely people who signed up for our newsletter. If you want to be among the first ones to see it, please share your wish here: link.”

#3 Ask them to fill in a survey

If you have a survey anyway, or want to gather some info about your audience, you can also use the OOO message to do this. Remember to include a very simple survey with only a few questions.

“Even if we can’t talk right now, I’d love to hear your opinion about [topic of the survey]. It has five quick questions, and I’m happy to share the results with you: link.”

#4 Raise funds for charity

Yes, the OOO message can do that! Ask the sender to comment on a social media photo – or do something that is very easy to do – and you’ll donate £x for each comment. This increases the engagement of the sender for a good cause.

“Before you go, could you do me a favour, and with one comment help [name of the cause]. Once I’m back, I’ll donate £5 for each comment on this post (link) to [name of the charity].”

#5 Show how much people love you

Do you have a testimonial or a review from a client that you are very proud of? Would you shout out about it to everybody? Do it now, in your OOO message that gets to all the senders while you’re away. The best is to add a video, but if you don’t have that, you can add a written one.

“Even if I love being on holiday, I can’t wait to get back, as we have amazing clients like [name of the client who gave the testimonial] who [sum up the main message]. I’m so proud of this feedback, if you have a minute, please watch it here: link.”

Don’t forget the subject line

Instead of the boring Out of office subject line that is really impersonal, adjust the subject to the theme of the email. If you offer a valuable piece of content, you can write ‘I have something for you.’ or ‘I can’t wait to get back to you, meanwhile I have prepared this for you,’

Warning: the above is only recommended if it’s your dedicated business email. Be careful with the general and customer service emails. You can still use a friendly tone, as if you were talking to the client, but think of the potential messages, that might include complaints.

Have you picked up any of the above? Do you have any other ideas? Please get back to me and let me know, I will read it and reply to it (once I’m back from my holiday:) – tk@franciscooper.com

The article was written by Timea Kadar, chief marketing advisor of Francis Cooper Marketing Consultancy. She has been in marketing for 21 years, and since then has planned and run thousands of campaigns for global enterprises and startup companies. If you liked it and want to get more of these kinds of things, ask for the weekly Profit and (G)Loss Statement about the marketing wins, losses, and lessons here.

Five misbelieves that you always hear about LinkedIn [and the truth]

There are several urban legends, tips, and word of mouth knowledge that is passed on about how LinkedIn works. And I’m the last to say I know better. What I can say though is that I tried and tested, several times, at several accounts, and I share my experience based on these tests.

#1 LinkedIn algorithm prefers comments that are added right after the post was published and will show it to more people

As I said above, I can’t say explicitly if it’s true or false – and nobody else can. LinkedIn doesn’t publish its algorithm preferences, and even if it did, these change. So anyone saying anything about what LinkedIn likes or dislikes is spreading an urban legend. My own research doesn’t show a correlation between the imminency of the comments added and the number of views the post reached. The below Halloween post I added on a Saturday afternoon, and comments started to come in the days after, and with only 9 comments it reached 1,481 views. The post on the right I published in the morning, it was commented on right away, and the reach is lower (1,212). This is not the only time when I see no correlation between the imminency of the comments and the reach. It’s great to have comments, no matter when.

#2 LinkedIn doesn’t like external links, so if you add it in the post, it will have fewer views.

The above belief makes people add links in the first comment, which becomes a hard-to-find comment once several comments are added. It’s the most annoying when I’m really interested in something the author talks about but I find out that they wanted to please Linkedin more than me 🙁

I decided to focus more on my readers and user experience than the algorithm, and it was rewarded with a 50% higher click through rate of the link versus when it’s in the comments. So even if this belief is true, I won’t make my readers look for the link in the comments. (Besides, I’m not experiencing fewer views when the link is in the post.

#3 LinkedIn is a professional platform, personal content won’t work there

There’s no platform on Earth (and potentially in the universe, but I have no proof of that) where stories wouldn’t work. People don’t wear suits and tie when reading Linkedin and then switch to pyjamas before turning to Facebook! In a lot of cases, they don’t even notice where they are. My posts with the highest number of views are all about my story or look at the one below (more than 10,000 views). It’s true however that the story has to make a point, and shouldn’t be just for the sake of sharing a story.

#4 LinkedIn is for B2B businesses

While the majority of the businesses are B2B, if you have your B2C customer on LinkedIn, you can reach them there. Remember that people don’t change their hats, they can be on LinkedIn as a business owner AND a busy mum AND a dog owner at the same time. Just two examples below whose posts I really love: Anthony takes us to wonderful places and shares amazing stories as a travel expert (non-business). (No wonder he retrained as a copywriter for the covid period.)

April’s posts are always popular, she is a permanent make up artist and anti-ageing therapist.

Whether you’re B2B or B2C, you are talking to people, and if you can impress them, you’ll do good on LinkedIn.

#5 LinkedIn Stories is a new feature that LinkedIn will show to a lot of people

It’s really new, but it hasn’t made it yet on LinkedIn. I tried several various types of content reaching 21-21 views, while the same content reached thousands as a post. This below is my first Tik Tok video. It had 170 views on Tik Tok (I have 6 followers).

I uploaded the same to Instagram Story: 30 views (4,300 followers.) Linkedin Story: 6 views (3,800 connections). When I posted it in the feed, over 400 views. The same way as one person doesn’t have to be good at everything, one platform doesn’t have to do everything.

Conclusion

Don’t try to impress the algorithm, the gurus, LinkedIn, but your audience. And while it’s recommended to keep track of numbers, don’t be lost in the count of views, likes, comments, but the quality of the connections you make

The article was written by Timea Kadar. She started the 30-day LinkedIn Challenge in January 2020 to help business owners get into the habit of using LinkedIn, build their strategy, and get quality connections and leads in 30 days. Read more about the Challenge here.

How to make the most money out of your bio in guest posts (with bio example)

If your “payment” for your work is a bio at the end of the post and links within the article – which is the case in guest posts – you should make this work hard for you. I show you how and give you an easy to follow example.

When you write a guest post you obviously do your best to show your strength and expertise on the subject while giving the audience valuable insight into what you know. You are done, it is brilliant, you checked it several times – only the bio is missing from the end. You quickly look for an earlier bio to copy-paste or scribble down a condensed version of your CV to be able to send it by the deadline.

Well, until now! Your compensation for the whole article is the attention you get for your own site and activity, so give as much attention to your bio as to the whole post.  To make it absolutely clear right at the beginning: the reader doesn’t care who wrote the piece they are reading. Unless they are writers themselves, or you are a celebrity (in which case you don’t need to worry about your bio), readers are not necessarily interested in the author. Even if they finish reading the piece, they are not obliged to go on to read the bio. This is the reason why you shouldn’t list all your previous achievements, publications, qualifications and degrees.

Instead, go through these three steps to make the article and the bio work for you

#1 Pick one single goal you would like to achieve when readers click through. This seems to be easy: you usually want them to get through to your blog, website or social media, but the fact is that the readers don’t just want to click through to see another blog. Therefore, narrow it down to a more specific goal which the reader can easily relate to and which naturally matches your guest post. It could be a specific article which has more info on the discussed subject, your TEDTalk on the topic, or even an e-book or a video series they should sign up to. Tailor your bio and the links to support this goal.

To avoid any misunderstanding: your article should be a useful and brilliant piece in itself, not just some trailer that you excel in the content behind the click. But as an expert, you must have loads of additional info about your topic and you should link to these instead of your general webpage.

#2 Once you have a specific goal, match it with one action you want your reader to take. This can be reading a chosen article, watching a video, following one of your social media channels (and the word “one” is important here) or signing up to your lead magnet. Resist the temptation to list many options here and stay focused on the goal. Choose a channel which matches the best the original article and gives the reader the most on top of what he has just read. Also, instead of listing your general achievements, show a result you reached in that specific area.

#3 The last step is to sum it up in a nice message you would like to deliver to your audience. The point is that your bio should not be about you (as surprising as it sounds!) but your reader, and you should be able to show them how they would benefit clicking the link you give in your bio. I give you a bio example at the end of this post (and there is my bio too).

You should add the link(s) to relevant place(s) in the post if the blog owner allows it. (To avoid misunderstanding and to build a fruitful relationship from the start, always read the contribution guidelines, and if it is not clear, ask the blog owner what you can link.)  If you are not allowed to place links in the body of the post, you can still refer to the additional info readers can find in your bio.

Measure the impact of your guest post

To be able to measure how effective your guest posts are – and to be able to decide where to put more energy – include a trackable link. It is very easy to build with e.g. Google Link Builder and if you create a chart in Excel with your links and the visitors from them, you can easily keep track of how much it was worth to write the post.  If you would like to go a step further, you can also measure how valuable visitors were: if they converted i.e. did what you asked them to do in the call to action.

It is important to note however that the number of visitors coming from an actual article/bio is not the only factor to take into account when deciding where to write. Writing guest posts is also a great tool for building your brand, have a reference and have your name appear more times in an eventual Google search.

Free Bio example for you to follow

To this end use your name the same way (must sound funny but there are people using their names in alternate ways, sometimes with the middle name, sometimes without), you can even think of using a unique author name. If you add a title, use one that is easy to understand and remember, and use it consequently in each bio. This could even be something that is different from the usual titles and therefore catches the attention. (Just to give you an example, a chef could be a Tastemaster if it is appropriate and matches the style of other activities.) Important to note that the structure of the bio is flexible, and you don’t necessarily have to start with your name and title.

If you can, add a professional photo where you are easy to recognize, convincing and can be associated with your profession. Use the same profile photo you use in social media and other communications to build your self-brand.

Finally, here is an example, that you are free to follow and adapt:

The sample bio is for an article written for mothers about how to make their baby fall asleep.

“Anna Eden, Expert of Babysleep, and Founder of www.babysleep.com, is responsible for the calm and silent nights of more than 550 families. Listen to her groundbreaking, 3-minute video of the major misbeliefs about baby sleep issues parents should immediately forget.”

5 regretfully underused techniques for B2B content marketing

While we experiment with new content marketing tools we shouldn’t forget those good old ones that always work and are a nice change of pace to our content flow. Here I selected those especially suitable for B2B marketing.

#1 Challenge your leads

This is a great tool for collecting leads, activating the existing ones, and reaching out to the clients. We all face challenges, why not to help your audience achieve these. Challenge them to collect 1,000 leads in a month, build up their social presence, set up a motivation strategy or make sure they have a safe IT environment (obviously something you can help them achieve). Sark eMedia has a blogging challenge for 30 days with a closed Facebook group and special offers for members, a very engaged audience.

You send a task to complete every day until the challenge runs, and your audience can improve step by step. In your emails, you can add the link to blog posts and videos you created earlier and it will give you a continuous traffic on your earlier content.

Apparently, most people will not be able to meet the challenge every day, so make sure you include catch-up days, motivate and reward them. But all in all the main point is that you can show your expertise, engage clients and it gives space to several touch points with them. You can contact those who are struggling, to offer your help.

#2 Carry out an ‘audit’

We all want to know where we stand in the industry and versus competitors. So why not to offer an audit to your audience, asking them to fill in a questionnaire so that you can show them where they are compared to the other companies you have on file. This requires some previous data you have from other companies which you can get via a survey and you should have full disclosure about the procedure (i.e it is not an in-depth audit.).

I used this when I recruited guesthouse owners to a booking database. These guys are faced with an unbelievable mass of insult from various companies to advertise with them. So even an awesome offer wouldn’t have been enough to catch their attention. But offering them to show where they stand in the industry opened the door.

I also found this tool dramatically efficient to find out the biggest pain my lead has and then tailor the offer accordingly. Makes it easier to push that red button.

#3 Interview

Interviews always make a nice change of pace in your content flow as the dialogue form helps you get through messages easier, but in the B2B communication, it is especially effective. Interview the industry-leading companies what they think about certain issues you all face, how they solve these, what their plans are.

Alternatively, ask authorities about hot new or upcoming legislation in your industry. In your interview, you can help interpret these regulations so that it is clear for your audience. If you can be the first one with this, you can get a very high quotation and referral rate in the press. (Sometimes you even get the interviewee distribute the interview.)

Testimonials can also turn to great interviews if you ask your existing clients how they use and benefit from your service or product. If you can present a well-known client, even better, like in this interview by Campaignmonitor where they asked their client Virgin Experience Days to talk about their success, and then advertised this piece. (Sadly this interview lacks the real facts case studies require, I assume Virgin ED and Co didn’t agree to go into more details.)

It is good to have a network for interviews but you shouldn’t think it is so impossible to get through to the big players. It requires some investigation, following and commenting their activity – which you probably do anyway – and being bold to contact them with a well-written proposal. It is also an opportunity for them to expose their thoughts to an other audience, and many of them are passionate to talk about their profession. (I asked the then CEO of Booking.com for an interview on LinkedIn and the next day he said yes :-)).

It is crucial to have good questions, though, simply ask the real questions your audience is interested in, and be careful not to end up with a nicely polished PR piece for the partner.

Interviews give credibility to your message, you can refer back to them later as a reference, and you will be the source of essential information for your leads. Who wants more?

#4 Failure-stories

If there are success stories why couldn’t be failure stories? Because most companies are reluctant to reveal their failures. And exactly this is why it is a good idea to do it because you stand out. Showing what we screwed up earns the attention and also the admiration of the audience for being brave enough. At the same time, we can show how we stood up after the failure, what we learnt from it, and how we can help them come out of similar issues.

It is a great argument that we already spent the money on failures so that the client doesn’t have to. You can also present case studies of pitfalls of other clients – if they agree.

#5 Combine all the above

Feel free to combine the above tools. You can start a challenge and interview the members, present success and failures based on their challenge. You can offer an audit for them as a reward. Then prepare a study with infographics on the data you collected and distribute it.

If you send your leads a mail with an invitation to any of the above, it will attract their attention much more than a neutral ppt about your offer.

“It was awesome!” – How to maximise the power of testimonials

Sitting at the counter at Three being served by a very eager assistant, I had to stop him just to take a photo of this signboard behind him (and the very same board hangs behind each assistant). A very good way of suggesting that I made a good decision sitting here to show that this company is by far the best – supported by an impartial body showing the competitors score. Using the Trustpilot scoring builds credibility. A little roast of the competitors: their bad ranking is displayed as opposed to the good ranking of Three.

Make a note of the headline: instead of the usual “What our clients say” they display a huge Thank you! It is not only an eye catcher but puts the emphasis on the clients and on themselves.

How to maximise the power of testimonials in your business

There is no point in burying nice feedback just on a page of your site (if at all). Use it at each stage of the customer journey and via each possible channel. Try to find testimonials which reinforce the clients’ decision about that particular product or service, about the price (“it would have been worth twice as muc.”), about the speed of the service (“I sent my order, and in 6 hours I had my new sunglasses on.”), about the venue (“Both the venue and the catering were well above the usual conference standard.”)

Our clients are sometimes the best copywriters

Pick the best strap lines from testimonials (and not the whole bit) and spread it all over the website, in some cases it makes a good headline, or can be the title of a blog post! Use these lines as a delicate spice in your communication, and this way it is not only you talking to the client. When brands talk to people they unconsciously raise some concerns, and you immediately answer these with a confirmation from their peers.

Even if you don’t have Trustpilot (which is a good brand, and sends the message that the opinion is reliable), you can use Google and Facebook reviews, display the stars, use screenshots of the reviews to show credibility. Obviously, you can – and should – also ask direct feedback from customers, right after the service: in a video or in writing. They will be more inclined to give it to you then and their positive impression will still be fresh. In case of a conference, course, or training you can ask them to fill in a short form, and you can direct their thinking with some questions. These should focus on what their problem was, what they expected from the service, and how it solved their problem. These will be very helpful for you to use the feedback at exactly the right stage of the journey. (And by the way, a very useful way to find out more about your audience).

It is crucial that testimonials should be specific. If it says: “It was brilliant.”, however positive it is, it hardly helps someone. It should say how exactly it was brilliant, how exactly it solved a problem. Then the next clients will see they have the same problem and will see exactly how it is solved.

Display testimonials everywhere

It is not only for the website! You obviously share them in social, but look at the example I started with, at Three. You can use printed verson of this invaluable feedback at the customer service, at the reception where your clients are waiting for you, or where guests are checking in. You can frame them and put them in meeting rooms, or paint the best straplines on the wall!

In Venice, I saw a restaurant, where one feedback was engraved in a nameplate outside, so if you had no idea which places to choose for your lunch, this was a big help. Five Guys displays the quotes about them offering the best hamburger outside their place.

A final thought: testimonials are good feedback about what we do. But these should be all about thanking our clients for their trust and helping our next potential clients with their decisions.

Author: Tima Kadar, Head of Content at ContentBonum

If you find a good ad, send me it to hello@writefab.com, and I will write about it.

Copy and image by Timea Kadar, www.writefab.com

Read my quotes about words on Instagram.