Thursday, January 30, 2014

Love Your Customers. Engage.


Taking a look back at past articles I have posted on this blog has been interesting. While not much has changed from a strategic viewpoint, the environment around us has definitely changed. Who could have predicted that Facebook would be the place whole families connected online - even grandma and pop! 

Engaging with customers who are online and those who are in their social circle and could be your next customer, has never been so easy. Small business has never had the leverage they do now to spread their message - and I don't mean advertisements - and attract people who love what they do. 

Yet many small business still have no real website that has the capacity to work for them in this way. The changes that would make them function are often not big, but they are significant changes in so far as how well they work. The look of the website may not even be changed, though most websites tend to be poorly designed visually and with respect to functional navigation layout. Sadly few have much in the way of quality, relevant writing that is on target for their product and customer demographic. 
In other words - they have nothing that someone looking for that information and to buy - will find from those stores. They have not bothered to make it available - not to Google, and so not to customers. 

Facebook for business pages, Twitter, Linkedin, Pinterest, Instagram, your blog - all of these have the capacity to drive traffic to your website - people who are interested in your product. See my articles on Blogging for business for more information.

Please, let this be the year you get that sorted for the sake and welfare of your business. - Lindy

The social media world is abuzz with messages on how the future is all about caring for customers and your network, showing you care and being authentic in our engagement with people online.

I see this and I know it's true, and I wonder if this should give me hope that business will soon come to understand this too.

Now while I'm prone to be optimistic, I am perhaps not optimistic enough to expect that this will happen for the great majority of businesses. More than that, I predict a great many businesses will continue to not 'get it' at all, and will keep doing what they are doing, without regard for the changing face of business and the new way that people are coming to expect to deal with businesses as they look to buy goods and services.

For the smart business owners, they will realise The Jig Is Up... and if they want to be relevant to customers, if they want to have their loyalty and their ongoing business, then they have to smarten up the way they do business. The smart ones, will do just that. And in doing that, they can own that segment of the local business, if that's what they want and if that's what they incorporate into a strategy to accomplish this as an outcome.

Enter the era of Engagement. Well it isn't such a new era. Years ago my parents opened a corner shop to let them earn money when my eldest brother was hospitalised for quite a long time. The corner store was a great example of local business engaging and relating to local customers and responding to the market. The shopkeeper was a part of the community and 'they knew where you lived', so your reputation was important, as was your ability to provide a service model that accomodated the needs of your customers and made your business an integral component of their day-to-day life.

In 2010 that's still the way it is. I hear business owners say "customers aren't loyal any more". And they are probably right. Customers have no reason to keep coming back to your store if you aren't providing them something different in the experience. If you train your customers to just look for discount prices, then guess what? They will find the stuff cheaper somewhere else. Probably at a big box store that can buy supplies cheaper than you can. So there is no future in that kind of selling model. What the big box stores can't do - and the family business can - is provide expertise, and engagement and responsiveness. The family business can determine to be the best in their particular field, sell stuff that is worth the price to buy and be there when things go wrong, to make them right again. That's what business can do - and that's what business will do... if it wants to stay in business in this new economy.

But that's not all bad. And technology lets us not only provide this expertise and superior service model in our local downtown area, but potentially, across the internet to those people who want what you specialise in. If you set your business up well, you can sell your stuff to people close by - and people not so close by, but who want what only you can do.

So what is the 'takeaway' from this? Simply this.

If you want your business to be vital into the future you need to start approaching it as a business. Understand the way the market works and you make sure you have:

  • A clear Vision for what you want to achieve
  • Communicate that Vision to your employees, friends, partner, and customers
  • a strategy of your own to follow in implementing your vision
  • actions and steps in place to deliver what you promise
  • methods in place to monitor and track your progress
  • a clear understanding of who your competitors are - and
  • what strategy they are using.

It's not good enough now to just turn up each day and do what you do. Think. Plan. Take Action. Engage.

That's what will keep your business healthy in the new economy.

Oh and one final thing. If you don't love your customers ... get out of business now.

Related posts

Nurture your customers - how and why
Businesses are hiding online and nobody can find them
Business articles on social media and online marketing 
How this clothing business in an Australian country town started selling to the world

Thinking Of Getting A Business Coach?
Lindy Asimus
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Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Business In Hiding Online

Almost every day I am checking out websites for businesses. If I meet someone or an enquiry comes in for coaching or help with a Facebook page, or other social media or marketing issue, I check out their website.

What Does Your Business Present Like Online? 

I check it out first to see if I can find it by their category of what they do.

Then I check it to see how it looks to me as a potential customer. Does it make them look like they know what they are doing and presents them as professional in their manner, or amateur? Are the images real or stock photos? Are they well shot or dark and impossible to see clearly?

Then I look 'in the back' to see what it looks like for Google.

After that, I check to see if basic contact information is easy to find.  Do the links work? Are their social media platforms connected? Are they updated? Do they even have any?

And then I check to see what position it has in Google search for the category of business they are in for their location.

Professional Pride And Your Website 

As you might have guessed, by now, a great many businesses don't rate very highly on the basic performance of their website and online presence.

I don't get it.

Making your business present well online is not about a website. It is a matter of professional pride in your work and your attention to detail within your business. Hell, it is a matter of sales, sales conversions and ultimately about profit and loss.

You'd Never Do This In Business 

Business owners who would never dream of  leaving a pile of junk in the front of the building, with filthy windows, looking messy and discouraging people from using their business, will do just that when it comes to their website.

And they would never dream of not putting a sign out to say they are there, or not show their address on their advertising. Yet they will do exactly that with the biggest environment available for potential customers to find their business. The web.

Can't afford to get help to fix your website and make sure your business looks the best option for customers?

The reality? This is one of the costs of doing business. Like paying the electricity , or keeping you suppliers paid. You can't afford to continue to not fix it.

If you're willing but not sure how, give me a call.

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Monday, January 13, 2014

Business Articles From Hunter Social Media Marketing @lindyasimus

Over on my Hunter Social Media Marketing blog I post articles that relate to
Newcastle, Hunter Valley or Australian online business issues and local studies that are released that have an impact on business engaging online, and focusing on customer needs at the local business level. Here are  some you might find of interest.

Levels Of Being Online For Your Business. 

Many people say they are "online" with their business but that doesn't tell the full story. In fact your presence online for your business will range from 0 to Level 5 - and not all levels will give you any chance at adding profit to your business and your bottom line. You can certainly make this a profit source for your business but first you have to invest and do the work. But what exactly is the work to do? This article explores the different levels and what you would be doing at each stage, so you can at last know where you are in the pecking order.
What level of being online has your business achieved? 

Business Trends To Know 
These changes are not just in marketing, they are reflected all across the business and the way that businesses must learn to operate in this age using technology and responding to the requirements of those customers they want to have spend money with them. 
Online Business - Trends you need to know about and understand

Understanding How Customers Are Finding What They Want
Customers now have a range of ways of finding good information on what they want to know and they expect to find it online! Make sure your business is helping them to find you.
Understanding Customers Expectations and Service Needs

How One Regional Business Is Using The Internet To Sell To The World
Case study:  Birdsnest ladies fashion website and store based in Cooma NSW
Selling To The World From An Australian Country Town

Blogging For Business Article Series 
Why do we need a blog if we are in business? What does it do to help me get more traffic? Where do I start if I want to begin blogging for business? What would I write about?  These are just some of the question I answer in this series on #blogging for #business

Part One:  Your Business Blog
Part Two:  Blogging for business: How do I start? 
Part Three: Blogging for business: Ideas on what to write

How To Make Your Website Work
A pretty website isn't necessarily a website that is going to work for your business or bring you new sales. But with the right tweaking your website can deliver you more sales, more enquiries from prospective customers and higher levels of conversions.
Making Your Website Work Hard And Smart For Your Business

Online Retailers Given The Drum
ABC Lateline's host Emma Alberici wrote an amazingly insightful post into the state of online retailing that outlines the real reasons that Australian customers have for shopping at overseas websites - and it is nothing to do with the GST. The reasons might surprise you. They should open your eyes.
Retail and Online Shopping In Australia 

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Friday, January 10, 2014

Small Business Survey 2014

As another year begins it is worth reflecting on the changes that have continued to happen in the business environment and the way that we manage our commitments. I've created this short survey - just 10 questions most with multiple choice answers,  to get some feedback from you on how you believe your business is situated right now.

When there is a good size response recorded as a sample size, I will post on the results.

If you would be willing to help and complete the survey and share it with other business owners, I'd be delighted and that will get the results publication that much closer.

To complete the survey you can use the form here or go to the live form here

Thank you!

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Thursday, January 09, 2014

Ovid on An Idea

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Wednesday, January 08, 2014

Technology, Internet And Social Media - Productivity Tools

Disturbing it is that business people who are smart and clever in their business yet are still not quite getting the point about the new technologies and marketing potential of the online environment. 

Q: Why might a company switch to cloud computing for their accounting? 

A: To be in possession of real time data on their numbers in the business and streamline processes to manage that information so that you as manager can run your business more effectively.

Q:Why should a company use social media? 

A: I don't really know... Oh to look trendy... 


That's not why you would use the online world for your business. You use the online environment and tools to be more productive and sell more.

You use these tools all to become more productive - and do more with less.

That's the long and the short of it.

Your Website, Social Media And Making It Work For You

How do I tell if someone has a cohesive strategy for making technology, the internet and social media a centre for productivity in their business? I listen to see if they are talking about the website as something separate and apart from their online presence. I listen to see if they believe they can learn all they need to know in a week or two and think that's all they need to know to master this part of their business.

Since I have spent so many years studying this stuff and monitoring the changes that have happened over that time, I know how naive and unrealistic that is.

If you are going to "do something with social media after... you do X with your website" then you have not understood that the website and the social media marketing elements need to work together.

You might even not understand that the person doing your website changes may know nothing about how to make you website productive. That's typically, in their mind,  not what they are there to do.  That's not my opinion, that's verbatim what I have been told by people who work in this industry.

Now this is an important thing to understand.

If your web person is design focused then by and large, they are there to make it look good on the screen.

Not for Google.

If they are coders then they want the code to be clean, or maybe they will settle for the template working without obvious glitches.

Not for Google.

If your website has not been updated in the past 3 years you can be certain that it is not doing all it could be.  No question about it.

Which does not mean that is is doing all it could be if it is newly revised - many new websites don't work at all in the ways that let them add to productivity.

Oh and you should know - paying a lot of money for your website work is no indicator of capacity to work. Let me say that again. Paying a lot of money does not mean it will work better or even at all.

Now this is a complex and changing environment and some things that make the website work have nothing to do with the web person. Some things are a factor of the information that must come from the owner of the business.

These are issues not of a technical nature but of a company narrative and focus. Of vision and ability to communicate the story of the business, and the understanding the business has of it's worth and what their customers value. Many businesses don't even know what that is, so will struggle to communicate that in their marketing.

So too, when it comes to your company being visible online on both the website and social media platforms such as Twitter or Facebook, or your blog, or Linkedin or all of these, and more besides.

We are stuck with this not uncommon problem that is always there to catch us out. That is - Not knowing what we don't know.  Not knowing what a problem is - is not the same as there being no problem, though to that business it can LOOK THE SAME.


Learning what you need to know to be able to identify problems that are not readily apparent is part of our job as managers of our business.

The other invisible aspect of this, is the cost you are paying for not knowing.  The cost you are incurring in sales not made, inefficiency, wasted man-hours and lack of good system and data by which to streamline and make the business more efficient and staff more effective.

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Saturday, January 04, 2014

Goal Checker - Make Sure You Make The Right Goals


Here's another tool to help you with your goal setting. Many goals fail because they don't have any real purpose that we care about at a visceral level. There are ramifications for everything we do - checking the ecology of these and understanding the full implications makes a world of difference to both deciding if this goal is really one to pursue, and what the full meaning of achieving that might be. 

Related articles on Goals


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Friday, January 03, 2014

Life Goals Cheat Sheet

"Setting goals is fun! It is about giving you exactly what you want in life"

Goals are a passion of mine. I love, love, love working with clients on setting goals and putting a structure in place for them to make improvements in life so they can get more in control of their life and importantly, their time and get rid of some stuff that is not doing them any good, to free up space for things that matter most to them but have been off the agenda for too long.

Now one of the strange things is that when you get right down to it, it can be hard to think of what you want!

When setting goals we need to look at all areas of life so we don't forget something important. For example, achieving financial goals is not much benefit if your health and relationships suffer as a result. So ecology needs to be kept in mind - across all the areas of our life.

So I thought it might make things easier if I wrote out some sample goals. Now you can adapt these to suit your situation but these goals should prompt you in the areas of your own life where you can more easily imagine a parallel goal that would work for you.

Also worth thinking about in setting your goals is the time frame. Like saving, it is good to have goals for the year, and goals for the longer term, say 5 years, which you may reach by attaining smaller goals as steps along the way.

Some goals - those for material things - need to be really specific. On the other hand, goals around relationships require actions. You can't "make a better relationship" but you can implement actions, which result in better relationships. Keep these two kinds of goals - material and abstract - in mind.

If you are in a relationship - remember your goals, and your partner's goals should be complementary. If your goal is to be single that could be a problem for your partner! And remember to set another list of joint or family goals that you can work towards together.

Goals should be well formed - this checklist does not meet that criterion but they can be easily adapted when you come to writing your goals down.

In no particular order...

Goals to achieve in the next 12 months


Assess your current state of health. You want to use this as a benchmark for future comparison

Stop drinking cola and sodas. Switch to making your own unsweetened iced tea instead of fizzy drinks

Start cutting down current alcohol intake

Improve your diet by cutting out junk food to get to a better weight.

Walk or cycle for one hour 3 days a week (specify days and diarise)

Learn to cook 3 great recipes for meatless main meals to serve regularly

Stop doing - (that activity that is hurting your body or peace of mind)

Financial Health

Write up a budget with all  current spending.
Review and adjust your budget to improve your cash position

Build up savings of $2000 in emergency savings account and maintain this at all times

Open a savings account for long term goals or bigger items and deposit $100 per pay

Reduce credit card debt to zero

Increase payments to mortgage by $100 per month above required payment

Learn about how money works in the economy, how interest rates work and compound interest


Set aside one night a week for a romantic dinner and a movie

Make arrangements for the kids for these nights

Schedule in your diary 2 long weekends during the year for you and your partner to go away alone.

Make one hour every week to spend time with just one child to play or do an activity together as an outing

Phone parents every Sunday night for half an hour minimum

Make a visit to your parents twice a year for no special reason

Make time to spend with brothers and sisters each 2x per year outside of family get-togethers

Contact your good friend that you have not seen for a long time and reconnect and maintain


Develop the skills you need to be promoted to the next level

Work towards a pay rise

Find a better job

Ensure that you apply yourself to your work every day - seek assistance if you are having problems with your work.

Seek training in areas that will improve your job opportunities

Find a mentor in your industry to help you develop your career

Start the part time business that you have been talking about for years. If it is complex, begin by making a plan of what is required and setting aside the resources that you will need and a deadline to begin.

Self education/ personal growth

Enrol for that course you wanted to do

Learn piano or guitar

Teach a class

Learn Italian

Start a kitchen garden and grow your own herbs and a few vegetables

Learn to cook

Learn about fashion style tips for your best look

Do a values inventory to understand your core values, motivators and beliefs

Get a coach - one on one coaching can be a real catalyst for personal development

Recreation and Indulgence

Take up a hobby or learn to do an activity - dance class, sailing, karate, swimming, ice skating, birdwatching, yoga, tai chi

Make a list of 5 books to read this year and read them

Schedule 2 long weekends away for the family

Plan and book a holiday during the year for the family

Set aside an hour per week just for you to spend doing nothing.



Join a community group

Adopt a rescue dog

Choose a charity to support


Learn to meditate

Set aside 30 minutes twice  week to meditate

Keep a log of your meditations

Learn about Hinduism and Buddhism and other western religions

Read works from these religions

As you can see, even just choosing one goal from each of these areas would combine to have a dramatic effect on your life in the year to come.

Importantly, setting goals should be fun! After all, it is about giving you exactly what you want in life, instead of just getting what you get.

Related articles on Goals

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Wednesday, January 01, 2014

Social Media Marketing: The Dirty Secret

Just going through some old blog posts and amazingly I wrote this in 2011 and it is as if nothing has changed. Too many local businesses have done nothing of any worth to get their business online even now as we head into 2014.

Are you taking your business seriously enough to be using the new media to promote what you do to the people who can be your customers?

Social media marketing is topic of the day it seems wherever I turn. Old media can't get enough of new media and it seems like they have run out of ideas to broadcast and are stuck trying to make their old media 'hip' by chasing the new media wagon.

Like so many things that are reported in the sensationalist media outlets, much of what is reported sounds good ...but when you get right down to it has some fatal flaws. Social media marketing is no exception.

Let me start by making this statement.

Social media for business is nothing about Facebook. 
Nothing about Twitter and nothing about any other platform that you might use. Just as your business is not the accounting package you use. But like your accounting package, you can use it well, or you can 'half use it' and waste the functionality that it could be giving you to better place your business and ensure your success.

Here's the dirty secret that people promoting social media don't want you to face. The owner or manager of your average conventional business doesn't find pleasure in hanging around online and nor do they have spare time to spend that way. If they did have spare time, there are other things they would rather be doing.

Neither do they understand why they should care about social media for business, or the internet or even have noticed that the world has changed and what worked in the past may no longer be the way to get the returns they want.

Conventional business has been sold a lot of bunkum about new media and not much in the way of real information that they can understand and relate to their business situation.

Local businesses are often run by people who don't spend time online in a way that opens them up to new business research and frankly the more information that we are faced with, the more we can turn away from it in self defense. Too much information. No real way to tell the good from the not-so-good and soon we become hit with a wall of overwhelm.

For the business owner or manager considering how they could use the tools of social media for business the first thing to understand is this: You need to understand what this can do for you, and what you will need to learn, and acquire, and actions to take in order for this to give you any benefit that you can measure.

First Step:

Before You Start...
Make sure you have the answers to these questions.

  • What is the situation in my business that I'd like social media to be able to address?
  • What do I need in the form of resources to use social media as a marketing addition?
  • What budget can I dedicate to my social media marketing?
  • Who can help me to physically work on the social media campaign with the skills the business needs?
  • How much effort am I prepared to put into learning to understand this marketplace?
  • Is my website properly set up to take advantage of increased traffic and to allow customers to purchase easily?
  • What else besides sales is beneficial as an outcome for my business by being online and active? 
  • What do you want your business to look like in 1 year... 5 years time?
  •  How will you provide the content that you need to generate interest online?
  • What's the story you want customers to know about your business and values to share?

Now what?

These are just a few questions to get you started. There are many more and yet as you see, none of them are questions about Facebook, or Linkedin, or Twitter or any other social media platform.

Related articles

Your keywords versus what customers search for online 

How your business just became an online publisher and why it is a productivity issue 

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