3 Steps To Boost The Number Of Online Bookings

Allowing your customers to book your time online is an enormous opportunity. By having a presence online, the number of people who can find out about what you do, and then book an appointment with you will skyrocket. Think about how in the past you could only capture new business through word of mouth and expensive advertising – today you can attract new customers for free. Join the revolution and start taking online bookings.

That said, many small businesses and solopreneurs struggle to capitalize on the opportunity of the web. It can feel as if the internet is saturated with websites, many offering a similar proposition to your company. So, differentiating yourself and getting people onto your site then booking an appointment with you can be very hard indeed. However, with a little planning and research, you will be able to boost the number of people booking appointments on your website.

Let’s look at three things you need to get started.

1. Target audience

Developing an idea of your target audience and how to reach them over the internet is essential. You need to create a set of two to three personas which describe your ideal customers. The persona needs to answer key questions about the customer – location, age, what they might need your service for, how much money they have to spend on your product.

Case study of persona creation:
Emma offers one-to-one yoga classes in San Diego. She creates a persona of her ideal client, describing where they live, their age, gender, income, and personal timetable. Say her ideal customer is a middle-age woman living in a wealthy San Diego suburb who works full time but is free most mornings before 7.30am. Once the persona is in place, Emma can then begin developing her website and online presence to attract that kind of client – placing ads on LinkedIn targeted at her demographic, emphasizing on her online bookings page that she can provide lessons at customers’ homes early in the morning.

With a clear idea of who she wants to work with, Emma is then able to develop a strategy to get those people to book appointments via her website.

2. Create a strategy

After developing a series of in-depth personas, you next need to create a strategy to reach those kinds of people. For different kinds of businesses, this will involve very different tasks. Nonetheless, once you have a strategy, you can then follow it to ensure that you are marketing yourself consistently and professionally. An online marketing strategy needs, at the very minimum, a smart website (it doesn’t need to be over-complicated, just functional), social media marketing and email campaigns.

Let’s see what this would look like:
Mark runs a consultancy which works with small businesses in Arizona. He develops a marketing campaign built around a concept he calls ‘Mark says…’ which provides advice to the kinds of clients he works with. A key part of Mark’s social media strategy is to write one Tweet each day with a piece of ‘Mark says…’ advice. On his website, he writes a more in-depth ‘Mark says…’ blog each week. And, once each month, he sends a ‘Mark says…’ email newsletter to his existing customers.

With this consistent strategy and using the most powerful tools available for marketing himself, Mark builds up his reputation in the minds of existing customers, while fostering interest from potential new clients. This will lead to more online bookings through his website.

3. Unique Selling Proposition

Whether you have a revolutionary new idea for a business, or are carving out your place in a crowded market, to get more online bookings through your website, you need to make it clear why you are unique. You need to think about what you do that is different, why you are better than your competitors, and why your customers should hand over their hard-earned cash to you. There might be many different things that make you unique, but you need to boil this down into a simple statement to place on your website that customers can easily understand.

What would this look like?
Rosa speaks English and Spanish fluently and runs a translation business in New Mexico. She works with a range of clients on various types of translation. However, she needs to boil this down to one unique statement. By carrying out a review of all the existing clients she works with and the projects she enjoys most, she can define her business in a unique way with a statement like: “speedy, professional and prompt Spanish-English business document translation in New Mexico”.

Once this is published on the top of her webpage, on her social media profiles and in the footer of her emails, this kind of statement means people visiting Rosa’s website will immediately understand if she provides the right service for them.

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Len is a tech and business writer who covers small business and startup advice and has appeared in many print and digital publications. He lives in London, UK, where he's also a sub editor on a national newspaper. He loves to travel and has lived in France, Spain, Senegal and Rwanda.

Guide to striking deals via email

When an email from a new lead lands in your inbox, the way you respond can be critical. The initial negotiations with a potential client, where you find out what they want and what they’re willing to pay can be complicated – especially when the entire conversation happens over email.

Psychological research has found that up to 90% of face-to-face communication is non-verbal, meaning that it’s a lot harder to gauge what a client wants when the only interaction you have with them is written in the body of an email.

Nonetheless, people are increasingly reaching business deals with people and businesses they’ve only spoken to via email messages – and millennials in particular say they prefer contacting clients over emails than phone calls.

If you find email a complicated medium, let’s look at some useful ways you can build rapport over email, which will make more of those promising leads turn into profitable customers.

Striking Deals Over Email

Let’s take a look at some simple steps you can follow to boost the chances that the email conversation will turn into real business:

1. Avoid hitting people with quotes and brochures up front
Unless the lead asks to receive price listings or other material immediately, you should not overwhelm them with this kind of content. Rather, aim to build a conversation and find out what their problems are and what they want you to help them with.

2. Meaningful subject lines will help everyone
An clear email subject line makes it easier for the client to find your email in their inbox – and it also tells them what the email will be about before they open it.

3. Keep the conversation flowing with questions
Don’t expect your leads to write long, detailed messages. It’s not uncommon for emails to be short and to the point – this doesn’t mean there’s a problem, you just need to keep the person’s attention. A simple start is to keep the conversation going by asking them friendly questions which mean they’re more likely to answer.

4. Cut length, boost clarity
Lengthy emails will just confuse potential clients. While you don’t want to appear blunt, you need to make it easy for them to respond to you and your questions. Bullet points or listed questions are easier for them to answer in turn.

5. Close off longer emails by summing up
If you need to write a longer email, aim to sum up the key points of your message at the beginning, and also draw out any specific requests or actions you need the client to complete at the end of the email

Happy emailing

Email can be a powerful tool for closing business deals – but unlike a face to face conversation, misunderstandings are more likely, and you can lose a warm lead with slow or confusing replies. However, just a couple of changes to your emailing style can make a big difference, and turn more leads into customers.

7 Timeless Tips on Advertising from Ogilvy

You’ve probably heard of David Ogilvy and his timeless marketing book “Ogilvy on Advertising”. If you haven’t, I strongly encourage you to pick up a copy here.

I’d like to share with you a few of my favorite nuggets of wisdom that I’ve found in his book and have used for my clients, successfully, and that you can start using today to help your business grow. Let’s jump in…

Speak Visually. Create an infographic with Visme

Marketing Tip Number One:

It pays to give most products an image of quality. A first class ticket.

Marketing Tip Number Two:

Big ideas are what it takes to attract consumers to your product. (Which leads us to…)

Marketing Tip Number Three:

How to recognize a big idea.

Did it make me gasp when I first saw it?
Do I wish I thought of it?
Is it unique?
Does it fit strategy to perfection?
Could it be used for 30 years?

In a recent post I wrote about harnessing the power of mass desire on to your product, I covered why some ads run for 30 days and some run for three decades. You can check it out here.

Marketing Tip Number Four:

Positioning (what it is and what it isn’t)

Positioning is not a buzzword. Simply put, it is “What a product does and who it is for”.

Marketing Tip Number Five:

For local advertising you get [much] better results when you name the city/location in your headline.

Marketing Tip Number Six:

Recall increases by [an average factor of] 28% when you put your headline in quotes.

Marketing Tip Number Seven:

Story Appeal (use it). Add photos that arouse curiosity and entice the prospect to read the copy.

When it comes to marketing your business you have to take a unique approach, because after all, your business is unique and the problems you solve and face will be unique as well.

Copying what others do won’t get you there. Learning principles, tips and “hacks” that are proven effective will help. However, it’s up to you and your team to find the groove that makes your product irresistible to your customers.

These tips can get you some of the way there but don’t look for all the answers on the internet. Use your mind, trust your gut (you understand your business better than anyone else) and rely on the facts that can help you leverage your marketing efforts further.

When you’re creating your next marketing campaign try to remember these tips and this quote from Steve Jobs. I find it both insightful and motivating, I hope you do to!

“Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma – which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of other’s opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.”
– Steve Jobs