Disney movies used to be all about white knights and Prince Charming. But if you’ve seen Frozen, you know it’s a modern take that focuses more on sibling love than romantic love.
But even that is so 2013. Allow us to present: the 2017 Disney-inspired* film, Unfrozen.
(Giant spoiler alert: It ends with you falling in love with your business.)
You’re sitting in front of your computer one Wednesday afternoon. (Hint: We mean today.) You feel frozen. Your mediocre coffee’s gone cold. Your to-do list is overflowing, as usual. You’re silently cursing your client who still hasn’t paid you. You’re wearing workout pants, but you have no intention of actually working out today. You’re messing around with an online image editor, trying to make graphics that don’t make you want to cry. You’re toying with the idea of hiring someone — for the 20th time — but dismiss it when you realize you don’t have the time to teach them. You’re starting your ninth search, “how the heck do I write a great sales page” and then jumping over to one of your 126 open tabs for your other search, “what the eff is split-testing.”
Then suddenly, you get this email, reminding you about that the Solopreneur Success Bundle is here. It seems too good to be true. 18 resources from 18 creators who you admire, for only $99?
You think: There must be a catch. And there is. It’s only available until Friday, 9/22 at 11:59pm EST.
Is the Solopreneur Success Bundle the magic wand that will take you from frozen to the star of your own business? No, it’s just one piece of the giant fairy-tale themed puzzle.
Will you turn into a pumpkin if you don’t buy the Bundle by midnight? Probably not.
Will we send you a pair of glass slippers, free with every purchase of the Bundle? We wish.
Will it improve your relationship with your family, a la Frozen? Actually…maybe. (Since you’ll be a much more fun, relaxed version of yourself.)
Suddenly, you unfreeze and get into action. You head to the Solopreneur Success Bundle landing page to learn more, hit that beautiful Buy Now button, access the 18 products within the Bundle, and get to work making moves on your business.
In the immortal words of Taylor Swift: “It’s a love story, baby, just say yes.”
Cue the credits.
*This silly, fake film is in no way endorsed by Disney. But we’re sure they’d be just as enchanted by the magic that is the Solopreneur Success Bundle.
Label us what you will (we prefer “fun nerds”)…we love the back-to-school feeling that September brings, no matter how many years separated we are from the traditional classroom.
There is nothing like that feeling of mastering something you’ve previously struggled with or have been wanting to learn or do. Maybe it’s doing a full pull-up after weeks of training, navigating a foreign country in another language after months of intensive studying, or perfecting the most delicious green smoothie after several rounds of not-so-pretty tries. (Adding blueberries makes for an interesting color…)
We want you to feel that excitement for learning — and the subsequent thrill of accomplishment — each and every day in your solo biz.
As a resource hub for one woman shops like yourself, we’d even go so far as to say it’s our wish for you. (Sung to the tune of the Rascal Flatts song, obviously.)
With that in mind, here are 10 things you’ll be able to learn + accomplish if you purchase and implement the products from the Solopreneur Success Bundle, here from September 18-22:
Automate your biz processes and pump up your productivity (and sanity!) to create more time for revenue-generating activities…while leaving time for self-care, Instagram scrolling on the couch in your PJs, and watching (and rewatching) the latest episode of [insert your favorite series here]
Create a killer look for your next launch with plug-n-play design templates and stock photos that’ll catch eyes, increase shares, and get you a rep as “that girl with the perfectly coordinated Pinterest images”
Talk about what you do and not see eyes glaze over because you nail your pitch, every time (And once you nail it? Maybe your mom will finally be able to articulate what you do, too)
Be the one with the unused “unsubscribe” button in your emails because you’ve built a list of engaged subscribers, are nurturing them through effective automations, and know exactly what e-courses to create to keep ’em coming back for more
Get paid — on time, every time — and conquer the flow of that cash money in your business so you can can look at your bank statements with ease, not panic
Hire with confidence so you can start embracing the art of delegation and collaboration
Crush your sales page copy, conquer a solid content plan, and finally use hashtags how they’re meant to be used #notjudging
Get yourself (legally) protected from the potential perils of the online world that you’d probably rather avoid but really, really shouldn’t
Master SEO and see what this “Google juice” everyone’s talking about is really like
Make the perfect cup of delicious, steaming hot — or perfectly iced — coffee, every time (because…caffeine)
Ya know those moments in life that you just. can’t. wait. for? When your mind is so singularly-focused, your dreams are all about the same thing, and you barely notice that you haven’t showered for a few days?
Then that moment comes — and IT’S THE BEST DAY EVER! You want to shout it from the rooftops; blast it all over your social channels; send the largest group text ever.
The 2017 Bundle is here — and it’s made up of 18 amazing resources worth more than $1,700. Your investment? $99. But here’s the catch: It’s only available this week, from September 18th – 22nd.
Streamlining and automating. Conquering your cash flow. Mastering SEO. Becoming an email marketing expert. Kicking ass with DIY design. Maintaining your sanity as a business owner. Getting set up, legally – the first time. Hiring with confidence. Crushing your copy + content. And hey, even making barista-level coffee at home. (Because…caffeine. ☕️)
Simply put? The Solopreneur Success Bundle is the best deal on the internet for the resources that will unlock your potential as a solo business owner. But the clock is ticking…
It’s not every Monday that we shout from our rooftops. So come see what all the fuss is about.
To solopreneur success!
P.S. Did you buy the Bundle last year? (Heck, yes!) Don’t let that deter you from checking it out again. Take it from Brittany, who’s bought the Bundle each time it’s come around: “I’ve been buying it as long as I’ve been a One Woman Shop member, and have been able to bootstrap and DIY sooooo many things because of what I learn in the included resources every year!”
(Editor’s note: If you’re already on our email list, you got this pop quiz via email this week — and probably #nailedit. Not on our email list? Oops! Hop on it here. In the meantime, test your knowledge below.)
It’s Back to School Month here at OWS! That means we’re celebrating learning, but not just any learning: strategic learning. (Because learning #allofthethings isn’t always the right decision.)
For right now, though, we want you to put your books away and take this pop quiz. Not to worry — this one is more the business version of a Cosmopolitan quiz than the kind that will keep you up all night…
When it comes to the following, are you a 1, 2, or 3?
When it comes to putting things on autopilot in my business, I…
Am a master chef of IFTTT recipes, religiously use email templates, have the sickest email marketing sales funnels, and use my project management tool every day without fail…not to mention that my FitBit auto-magically starts my coffee maker every morning as soon as I wake up.
Embrace the concept, but struggle to find the balance between automating everything and maintaining a personal aspect to my biz.
Think it’s fun to say #automationstation…but that’s the extent of it. After all, I’m not, like, a web developer…
When someone mentions hashtags, I…
Launch into a 5-minute explanation of the hashtags that drive traffic to my Instagram, the spammy ones I avoid, and the exact increase in my Insta followers since implementing my new hashtag strategy.
Admit that I drop a few into my Instagram posts here and there but don’t exactly have a strategy.
Sarcastically respond with a hashtag to show how above hashtags I am. #sassy #ironic
When I think of cash flow, I…
Relish the fact that I have weekly coffee dates with myself to go over my cash flow, have appointments on my calendar for important financial deadlines, and am always paid on time by my awesome clients.
Get paid on time sometimes, have some savings in my bank account sometimes, and feel at ease sometimes…but I sure wish all the above were “all the time.”
Think that the only way cash seems to be flowing is out of my business.
When it comes to content marketing (copy, images, and promotion), I…
Am disgustingly proud of what I’ve got: insanely high-converting sales pages for my successful, highly-rated e-courses, beautiful images and stock photos that perfectly match my brand, and copy that ropes my audience in with how hilarious//heartfelt/straightforward it is.
Have some content. Sometimes I market it. Isn’t that enough?
Don’t really do that. Does anyone really care what I have to say?
When I think of sanity in my solo biz, I:
Calmly raise my green smoothie and say “Namaste.” I’m centered, productive, and making money — with time to spare for prioritizing meet ups with friends, time with my nieces and nephews, volunteer work at a local non-profit, and high-energy work outs.
Believe I could get there with the right tools, but things keep getting in my way (like clients, money, hiring struggles, legal stresses, family, naps, Netflix, wine…)
Laugh. Solopreneur sanity — that’s an oxymoron, right?
You’re done! Now, tally up your answers:
If you got mostly 1s — Can we be you?! Close your laptop, grab a margarita, and relax. You have no more work to do. We’re sending envious but proud looks your way If you got mostly 2s — Think: Is there at least one of these areas that you’d love to feel especially capable in? It might be the perfect time to invest strategically in your biz to bring about some crucial changes. Hint: Monday could be just the time. If you got mostly 3s — Take a deep breath. Wait for next Monday. Buy the Solopreneur Success Bundle. Implement the action steps provided to you by 18 brilliant creators. Pass go, collect $200*.
Well done, One Woman Shop. No matter your answers, you pass. Because we’re all at different stages of business, facing different obstacles and celebrating different wins.
By now, it’s probably no surprise that the Solopreneur Success Bundle is coming on Monday. We can’t promise that if you buy the Bundle, you’ll move into the first category overnight, but we can promise that — if you do the work — you’ll benefit from some serious takeaways from the 18 products within the Bundle that’ll inspire your biz for years to come.
Do you ever feel like as a solopreneur, you have a one-track mind? You spend every waking minute working on your latest and greatest idea, you jot down notes in your Evernote as you’re falling asleep, and you try your best to focus on your mimosa brunch when you’re really thinking about your sales funnels, creative copy, and launch strategy. It’s an exhilarating feeling, as long as it doesn’t take over your life too much.
…And it’s something your non-solopreneur friends may never truly get. Luckily, you’ve got a community of fellow nerds here at OWS.
Well, as you may have noticed, our one-track minds are focused on the Solopreneur Success Bundle, which goes live at 12:01am on Monday, September 18. But who’s counting?
And speaking of things your non-business friends may never understand: Your excitement over insanely affordable access to 18 insanely valuable products from some of your favorite online creators. ($99 for more than $1,700 of value? Word.)
But…what if you could get all of that and more for free? For the next two-ish weeks, you can. We’re giving away the following three prizes:
Grand prize: One Solopreneur Success Bundle ($99 value, but really worth over $1,700)
Winner #2: One Target gift card ($30)
Winner #3: One Starbucks ($15)
Why these prizes? We want you to be fully caffeinated (thanks, Starbucks!) with a giant mug in hand and cozy socks on your feet (hey, Target!) when you open up your Solopreneur Success Bundle. All you have to do is help spread that word that the Bundle is coming. The more you share? The better chance you have of winning! But the giveaway is only live until next Friday, September 1st, at 11:59pm EST — enter today!
How many times have we heard all the things we “should” be doing when it comes to our business? My guess is: an awful lot.
And it’s no different when it comes to content marketing:
Facebook has said that writing is dead, while others insist you write a 2,500-word blog post (with a content upgrade!) or you’re wasting your time.
Everyone’s in raptures about live video.
And anyone who’s anyone has a podcast.
I’m not saying that any of these content types are wrong or that you shouldn’t do them. (Heck, it’s your biz. You do what works for you.)
What I am saying is that the landscape of content marketing is changing.
Here’s the TL;DR: There’s no one content marketing strategy that works. And there’s no one template to follow.
Why? Because the solopreneurs who want to stand out are getting sick of hearing all the shoulds and need-to-do’s when it comes to creating content for our businesses — and some of us are rebelling.
A content revolution is underway and it’s all about doing content your way.
The good news? This is your first-class ticket to unique content that stands out, serves your audience, and is fun to create. (How many wins is that?!)
So if you’re fist pumping (yes!) while doing a happy dance (possibly to this song), then your next question is probably: Okay, cool. So how exactly do I do content my way?
Well, my friend, one of the easiest ways to do content your way is to let your personality shine through. But how?
Your 3-step plan for adding more personality to your content
1. Give yourself permission to do things your way
The first step is to rethink everything you think you know about creating content for your biz. And that means that you need to transform the way you think about content (and the stories you tell yourself) so that you can allow yourself to do content your way.
Because here’s the thing. You don’t need:
To do what everyone else is doing
To force yourself to write
To heed another tactic from a 6-figure guru
You’re the only one who can give yourself permission to do things your way. So no more blinding yourself to the possibilities, okay? All options are open.
Read your writing and feel like it’s stilted, boring and doesn’t sound a thing like you? Then it’s time to rediscover your voice.
And yes. I said “rediscover” on purpose. Your voice is already there and we just need to bring it out.
My favorite way to do this is to record yourself speaking. Hit record on the voice memo app on your phone and just start talking. Talk about your message, your passion, an idea for a blog post, what you hate about your industry.
Talk it out. Then listen back to the recording.
Listen for particular words, phrases, explanations and examples that stand out to you. What expressions do you use all the time? What do you say that if a loved one heard the words they’d immediately know it was you?
Use your ears to your advantage — you’ll know when it sounds like you.
3. Share what you love (especially if it’s non-biz related)
People buy from people.
We trust people that we know and like (hence: “know, like and trust” factor). Sharing that you’re a coffee addict, or that you buy every paper planner you can get your hands on, or that you always work at a cafe are the little details that make you relatable and human.
And human = someone we can get to know and trust.
Practice sharing your story, and weaving different elements of your personality into your website content, services, sales pages, blog posts, on social media and for free email challenges.
This step is where the fun really
Example 1: My mentor, Melissa Cassera, is a business strategist and screenwriter who loves binge watching new series on Netflix and catching up on celebrity gossip. She reflects her personality in her signature program, OBSESSED, and in Game of Thrones-infused blog posts.
Example 2: A biz buddy of mine, Maggie Giele, recently revamped her entire business to showcase her love of Harry Potter, magic, and all things geek. (Her signature service is called Slay Your Strategy. I mean…come ON. How cool is that?!)
Example 3: I recently created the Jane Austen inspired Content Her Way revolution. Sure, this could have been just another content strategy project, but where’s the fun in that? Adding a Jane Austen flavor (someone who I believe completely embodies the philosophy of Content Her Way) has made the project more fun and has brought fellow Austen lovers in my community out of the woodwork.
Remember: There’s no one content marketing strategy that works. And there’s no one template to follow.
Content marketing is changing and I think that change is for the best. No more shoulds or need-to-do’s. More quirks and personality.
Content doesn’t have to be time consuming and soul draining. It can be efficient, effective, fun and fulfilling.
The key is to do it your way.
Join the revolution.
Content might be king…
but it doesn’t have to rule your world. Drop your email below to get even more great tips on content as a solo business owner!
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Maybe you’re expanding your own business and are ready to start building a team of bloggers. Maybe you’re looking to fill up your guest posting roster. Or maybe you’re managing a project for a client and they’ve decided that they want some blog posts — only you’re not really a great writer.
Whatever the reason, you need to find great bloggers to get on board, like, yesterday.
But where do you find them? What do you say? And how do you avoid getting inundated with a bunch of applications from people who don’t know their Oxford comma from their elbow?
Deep breaths — let’s break this down.
When it comes time to find great bloggers to work with you, you’ve got three approachable options: referrals, social media posts, and direct email pitches. But no matter which route you’re taking, you’re going to need to do a few things first:
1. Know exactly what you’re looking for.
If you’re not clear about the logistics of what you want people to do for you, there’s no way you can communicate that in your ask. So make sure you write down exactly what you’re looking for, whether that’s a one-off blog post for a client with a deadline of five business days, an ongoing series of guest posts of 500-1,000 words on XYZ topics, or a working relationship with a team of bloggers that you can contract work to, ad hoc.
2. Create a hiring page that includes tests.
Once you’ve figured out the details you want to share about the job right out of the gate, create a hiring page to direct people to. You don’t have to include every single detail about the job — for instance, you might want to keep information about rates back until you talk with people directly if you’re hiring, or you might be willing to negotiate deadlines for guest posts on an ongoing basis — but do include any dealbreaker-level things.
Also, make sure that you build in a couple of tests on your hiring page to help you filter out the people you really don’t want working with you. This is going to vary depending on the specifics of the job, but as an example, if you really need someone to be detail-oriented, then put out a list of things you want them to send you, from their social media handles to their rates to the answer to a specific question. It may sound arbitrary, but if someone can’t be bothered to get the details right when they’re pitching to you, they’re damn sure not going to bother when they’re working for you. (Here’s an example of what this can look like in real life.)
3. Think about what the next steps are, and do what you need to do to make that work.
Finally, make sure you’ve figured out a structure to manage what happens after you start getting applications, because these can spiral like you wouldn’t believe. The best way to figure out what this should be is to walk through the process in your mind step by step, thinking about what you’ll need at each point in the process.
A couple of things to think about include: scheduling links for follow-up calls or interviews, a spreadsheet or project management software to keep track of progress and deadlines, accounting software and legal agreements if you’re paying people, working guides or onboarding guides so people know what’s expected of them, information about your email hours, and of course, a backup plan in case you end up working with someone who really screws up and you have to salvage the project.
If nothing else, I recommend setting up a spreadsheet to keep track of who’s applied, whether they meet your criteria or not, any notes you have about them, and a record of your correspondence with them.
Now let’s talk specifically about how to put out the ISO (in search of) call for referrals, social media posts, and direct email pitches.
Tactic #1: Referrals
Always ask for referrals first. You’ll likely get your highest quality leads this way, and it’s really easy to write a quick email asking people for recommendations. Keep it short and simple: Start with an intro paragraph telling people that you’re looking for recommendations for bloggers. Follow up with a couple of bullet points that hit the highlights of the project, with the link to your hiring page for more info. Finally, thank them for helping you out. It’s simple manners, but a lot of people just don’t bother, so it can make a big difference in how the exchange plays out.
Tactic #2: Social media
If you get what you need from your referrals, great! If not, try putting out the call on social media. Facebook Groups are fantastic for this, but do know that you may get swamped with pitches. (That’s why it’s so very important to have your structure in place before you start!)
Make your post short and to the point. Start out with a headline that makes it really clear who you’re looking for, then, just like in the referral email, include your bullet points and hiring link. Make sure that the tone in your post is going to appeal to the type of people you want to work with. For example, if you want really serious grant writers, then write your post in more academic language. Or if you’re looking for sparky young bloggers, then keep your tone light and a bit irreverent.
Ideally, you should also create a graphic with the bare bones of what you’re looking for in it, since it’s much more eye-catching. Here’s a simple example of what that can look like:
Tactic #3: Email pitches
These are great for situations where you have a specific blogger in mind that you really want to get on board for a particular project. If you’ve connected with them before on their blog or via social media, so much the better, but you can also successfully cold pitch to bloggers if you know how to do it right. (Read: in a way that doesn’t make you come across like a high-handed jerk.)
The great thing is, you can reuse a lot of the text from your referral email for your pitch email. The bullet points are all the same; just change out the first paragraph to tell them a little bit about you and why you thought of working with them specifically. (Honest flattery can help!) Then include your bullet points, link them to the hiring page for further details, or invite them to email back or set up a call to chat about the specifics of the project.
Here’s what you need to know:
Get clear on the details of the project before you ever talk to anyone else.
Use your hiring page as a secret way to sort people so you don’t get stuck filtering through a bunch of unqualified leads.
Think about what happens next before this thing balloons on you.
From that foundation, you can tailor your request for great bloggers for each medium: referrals, social media posts, and direct emails — and watch the pitches flow in!
As one nominator put it, Meera “goes out of her way to help readers with exceptional content” — and we certainly don’t disagree. Her in-depth and actionable advice on both blogging and email marketing will have all solopreneurs feeling like digital marketing champs by the time they’re done here.
Mariah’s been helping solopreneurs turn their blogs into “badass, profitable businesses” for years, and her suite of resources for building and launching online courses is key to helping them get there. From your first online course creation to your 15th, Femtrepreneur is the place to go.
One look at Regina’s website will leave you wondering “How does she do it all?” And she doesn’t just do it — she does it with humor and grace. With a biz school called “Business School for Humans” and a Twitter bio claiming that she’s a “Stage 5 clinger to #business and healthy living,” Regina is the natural pick for fun-loving infopreneurs in need of resources.
When she’s not devising her own business strategies for challenging the status quo and stepping outside of cookie-cutter approaches, Tara’s interviewing others doing the same on her podcast, Profit. Power. Pursuit. From marketing to business models, she’s a go-to on all things “running and growing a company in the New Economy.”
You might initially visit Michelle’s blog to grab some free advice on budgeting and paying off debt — but with nearly 300 pages of archives, you’ll walk away with so (so) much more. With endless ideas for bringing in extra income to an inside look at how she runs her blog and business, we love the mix of aspirational income reports that help us dream and solid financial advice that helps us make it happen.
Denise — a.k.a. DDT — is our go-to Money Mindset Mentor. She provides high-level, mindset-shifting advice to help you remove your money blocks and stop your self-sabotaging money habits. She says, “I’m like a gateway drug to a life-long love affair with money.” We say, “Bring on the drugs.”
Not to toot our own horn, but we know the work that goes into running a high-quality, consistent, multi-author online platform. (We never said modesty was our best trait…) Which is why we know how to spot ‘em. Props to Think Creative Collective, which, in the words of OWS member Danielle “always approach[es] digital strategy and business growth from a fresh and fun perspective.”
…And now, enjoy falling back down the rabbit hole that is #100BestSites. It’s the list that keeps on giving as you seek out the best resources to help you navigate your solopreneur journey. Thanks to all who cast their ballots and supported their fellow business owners!
Create an operations manual. It’s probably business advice you’ve heard on more than one occasion. If you’re like most solopreneurs, it’s one of the things you skip — maybe because admin tasks just aren’t what you got into business for, or perhaps because you’re not sure what it is or why you need one.
We’re going to fix that today. Even if you’re just starting out, you can benefit from creating an operations manual! Let’s start at the beginning…
What is an operations manual?
Think back to the last time you started a job. You probably received a company handbook. That handbook laid out the company’s mission, rules, and procedures. They’re a required read to learn about the company’s expectations for you as an employee.
That document was the company’s operations manual. They built it over time as the company grew, likely adding to it as they found information they need to reference and relay to other people. It helps ensure the people they hire know what to expect and do while at work.
Even if you’re a one-woman show today, an operations manual can save you time, money, and headaches down the line.
Why create an operations manual for your solopreneur business?
There are a few reasons an operations manual might be a wise addition to your solo business.
1. Increase productivity. As your business grows, you’ll find your responsibilities do, too. Keeping track of every task you need to do will become impossible if your brain is your only storage system. You’ll inevitably start to miss steps in tasks you do on a regular basis. You’ll spend hours looking for a document because you don’t remember where you saved it. Soon you’ll find you’re spending more time fixing mistakes than moving on to the next task. Creating an operations manual will ensure you never miss a task or a step to complete things, saving you time and unnecessary stress.
2. Get organized. Organization should be a top priority as your business grows. It’s inefficient to have the tools you need to run your business scattered across a variety of platforms, apps, and devices. You end up wasting precious time trying to remember where the thing you need is, then searching for it across all the places you use for storage. By creating an operations manual, you build a central hub where things are all in one place and easily accessible.
Prepare to grow. Your business goals include growth right? While growth comes in many forms, many times it means bringing people on to help you. These people could be employees, freelancers, or collaboration partners. An operations manual will help you bring them up to speed quickly on what your business is about and how you run it, saving time (and money) in the onboarding process.
Your operations manual can be as simple or as robust as you’d like. There’s no right or wrong answer here. Keep this in mind, though: As your business continues to grow, it is much easier to implement new ideas if there is already a record of how things are currently done.
I know getting started can be hard so I’ve put together a few suggestions to help you out:
The options for items to include in your operations manual are endless. Decide what’s important to keep your business running in top form and put it in your manual.
Where to create your operations manual
I recommend creating your operations manual in a system you already use. I like to access my operations manual from anywhere, so I built mine in Trello. You might find Google Drive, Evernote, Asana, or some other system works better for your business. If you prefer to use a non-electronic operations manual, a binder with dividers is easy to update and copy.
Start building yours today
If your business plan includes growth, it’s never too early to start creating an operations manual. Next time you write and upload a blog post, for example? Take note of all the steps you take. It may seem like a lot of work, but an extra hour or two now can save time in the long run — and who doesn’t love saving time?
Your days, back in your hands.
Get instant access to 5 Days to Reclaiming Your Time, a free email course with the mindset shifts + action steps you need to get started in reframing your relationship with time. Sign up below!
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As any seasoned solopreneur knows, customer referrals are critical to growing your business. Whether it’s finding the right first hire or getting traffic through the door, having a trusted network endorse your business is what inevitably leads to success. It’s time to start paying attention to your network of referrals, if you haven’t been doing so already!
Referrals, sometimes called word-of-mouth marketing, are the most powerful form of brand building out there. Measurement firm Nielsen reports that “92% of consumers believe recommendations from friends and family over all forms of advertising.”
The power of referrals isn’t limited to friends and family, either. Wouldn’t you rather eat at a restaurant rated 5 stars on Yelp by 435 people than pick one off the street and hope it’s a great meal?
Of course, it might all sound like a great idea — but the idea of generating customer referrals might leave you with a few questions: As a small business owner and entrepreneur, how can you harness the power of referrals? What’s the best way to activate your loyal customers to speak on your behalf? And, most importantly, how can you be sure your referrals are being seen by the people who matter most: your target customers?
Keep reading, one woman shop: I’ve got a few ideas to get you started in mastering customer referrals.
1. Lead with your personal reputation
People want to buy from businesses and causes they believe in. Millennials especially want to buy from brands and companies they can feel proud to support. Marketing firm Cone LLC discovered that “an astounding 94 percent of consumers would switch brands if one carried a cause and another did not.” That good cause can be as simple as supporting an entrepreneur or strong female business owner they believe in.
Bottom line? Customers (read: millennials) want a personal relationship with the businesses they support. The best way to build that relationship is to lead with your personality. Infuse your brand with your own vision, passion, personality, and vibe. Communicate what you’re about and why you’re excited about what you do! This will help others who relate recommend you like crazy.
Where’s the single best place to start in building your reputation? Start by asking your friends and family to recommend you to others. They know you best and can speak to your personality and strengths. From there, it’s about connecting, not collecting: Follow up and start to build genuine connections with the people your family and friends refer. You can start to grow your referrals from those few initial contacts.
2. Show the good with the bad
Part of building your personal brand is recognizing that you’re not perfect. (Fact: No one is.) Referrals are strongest when they’re honest. That’s why sites like Yelp and TripAdvisor offer the opportunity for companies to respond to a negative review. Research shows that a company that responds to a negative Yelp review will see more positive marketing than sending a direct mail ad to their local area. It is so powerful to take the time to correct a wrong or own up to a mistake.
“Responding to negative reviews shows both the reviewer and potential customers that the business cares about its customers, and is willing to make things right when mistakes are made,” says one expert in the Huffington Post. Moreover, millennials trust companies that are transparent and authentic. They’ll be more likely to refer you and your business if you’re not trying to fool them by looking perfect all the time.
Once you know your own personal brand and have activated your friends and family to recommend your business, it’s time to start a more formal referral program. We suggest reaching out to your most loyal customers. According to the New York Times, “When you are clear about describing the recommendations you want, you make it easier for your referral partners to identify prospective customers for you.” If you’ve taken the time to make meaningful connections with the people you connect with regularly, then this ask should feel natural.
Should your referral program involve incentives? This is tricky: You don’t want it to seem like you’re bribing customers for a good review. One blog suggests forgoing your referral incentive for a customer loyalty reward: “The type of incentive you offer must fit with the kind of business you run. It could be a discount, service credits, an upgrade, a free item, or some other trigger that will entice clients to provide referrals.”
If you’re not comfortable with directly asking for referrals yet, find or build a system that makes it easy and seamless for your customers to leave you feedback. Over time, you can choose to broadcast these reviews or build connections with the clients you know have had a positive experience with your brand.
4. Activate social media
Make it easy for people to refer you! By hosting reviews on your Facebook Page or on a site like BULLIT, you’re really becoming your own reference when you post on social media.
It’s tough to argue with the power of referrals: Most often, you’re not only building a reputation that precedes you and takes significant weight off your need to market your business — you’re also getting in front of people who you’ll enjoy working with, because they’ve been referred by people who know you best.
How can you get started today? Head to BULLIT.me to build a free profile where you can start to see referrals work for you right away.