Business Strategy for Entrepreneurs customer experience marketing strategy PR for small business

The Real Secret of Running a Successful Online Business

blog 7.9

Friends, fellow entrepreneurs…lend me your eyeballs. For just a few minutes, and then you can get back to biz.

This hasn’t been an easy post to write. Not by a long shot, but it’s weighing on me. Literally nagging at me day after day after day. So here we go.

Something is seriously broken in our industry. I’ve written on this before and  shared my feelings about six figure talk, and it’s not about the money talk or sharing results, but rather, the fact we’re being conditioned like a bunch of mice in a science experiment to use that as our yardstick of success.

Don’t get me wrong, making six figures in your biz is a big deal. I know exactly how it feels to see it happen – having done it myself and for my clients.

But it’s a number. A number that may or may not work for you. Maybe your version of success is a $50K year or a $350K year. Whatever you want, decide for yourself and own it. This is your business, so don’t let it become a shorthand for how you measure success.

The truth is my six figures isn’t your six figures. I live in a town in rural Ontario, Canada. I likely have higher taxes, but an overall lower cost of living. I have socialized medicine by virtue of being Canadian and a husband with the Cadillac of benefits plans to cover the rest.

What’s worse than the fact that six figures is all relative is the fact that the six figure obsession in our industry has a dark side.

Cue the dramatic music. (I’m thinking some Star Wars Darth Vader type music would do nicely.)

There’s a laundry list of dark side issues, but here’s a few worth considering:

1. Six Figure “Success” is Quickly Becoming Meaningless

If you’re on Facebook, you know exactly what I’m talking about. When you do the newsfeed scroll you are inundated with promises of six figure success all day long.

Build your six figure social media business.
Create your six figure sales funnel NOW.
Learn how I made over $100K with this one marketing trick.

The list goes on and on and on. The real issue here is that even if you have real six figure success, this steady barrage of six figure promises devalues it. It makes us think that we can all ride in our our unicorns and party it up on our piles of sweet six figure cash that we made while we were sleeping.

This is SUCH a big challenge that as I’ve been writing a sales page for my new course (more on that coming soon), it took me days to be okay with pointing to some big client successes I’ve been a part of that are in the six figure zone. Quite frankly, it pisses me off that I need to labor over what are simple facts because I don’t want to be one of THOSE people.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m very proud to have been a part of these successes but owning that for my own marketing made me feel icky. Because six figure success is now a tired cliché.

I did decide to include them, but I crafted that copy with painstaking thought and detail so it made sense. This type of marketing preys on people and I’m unwilling to be a party to this. (We can see if I hit the mark when I launch in late August!)

There’s proof and then there’s promises. Often, I follow the trail to check out these people running ads with big fat promises and find out that they’re extremely thin on legit examples of who they’ve done this for.

Which brings me to my next point…

[clickToTweet tweet=”Six figure success talk is one big fat cliche. New blog post from @magspatterson” quote=”Six figure success talk is one big fat cliche. New blog post from @magspatterson”]

2. Real Success is a Pattern

Success isn’t one six figure year.

Or even creating your own six figure business.

What the true pattern of success is being able to do it again and again. It’s having the experience and skills to replicate that for your customers.  And six figures aren’t mandatory.

What’s more important than the money made is the concept of mastery. So much of our industry is based on the concept of “you need to only be a few steps ahead” thinking.

Sure, for some things that makes perfect sense, especially when we’re talking a new social platform or something that’s evolving all the time.

On the flip side, I’ve always had problems with this concept. And not because I think we need to know everything, but rather how this idea is taken to extremes. Being a step ahead doesn’t meant you can take a course or read a blog post and then turn around and regurgitate it all as an expert.

I’m all for moxie and being bold, but proclaiming to be the expert when you’re as fake as they come and sliding on shit does no one – most of all you –  any favors.

The intent behind being a few steps ahead is for you to internalize what you learn, then apply it, test it, tweak it and refine it over time, then share it.  And not just do it in your own biz. That’s too small of a sandbox to really figure out how to make something work, and it takes a narrow view of what success really is.

Do you need 10,000 hours? Probably not. But you need a lot more than 10 hours to be selling it as a service. If you’re new at something, get practice clients, beta your offering, then test and test and test some more.

Then you can point to consistent results. And consistency is the sweet spot in a world where half of small businesses fail.

As someone out there spending your money in this industry, pay attention to consistency as the mile marker.

Not the new person on the scene with one big launch that everyone’s celebrating, but the coach with 5 launches where you’ve seen them improve incrementally. Or the person with multiple successful businesses that’s quietly doing their thing in a way that’s to be admired.  Or the consultant you’ve been following forever that shows up in your inbox every Wednesday without fail.  Or the graphic designer who’s been creating amazing brands forever and is so good that her business is 100% referral based.

Those are the people to look to: the quiet leaders, the unsung heroes, the super solid people you’d be proud to call your friend. Not the latest overnight success story, IT girl or fast talking guru, as they will come and go.

The consistent ones may not be sexy, but they’ve mastered their craft and are the right people to help you create success that sticks for the long haul.

And if you’re not sure about where to invest your money, remember that…

3. People Tell Big FAT Lies on the Internet

You’re shocked, right? We all know that people lie on the Internet, which is why you can bet your bottom dollar that many of these people shilling their six figure fix/solution/magical potion to you via Facebook and other mediums are full of shit.

Don’t believe me? I had a rather eye-opening conversation with some entrepreneurial friends not that long ago. (Places and names obscured as I’m not here to out people or point fingers.) More than one example of trumped up success stories and promises were discussed and this is NOT the first conversation of this nature I’ve had. From grossly exaggerated income to out-and-out lies, it’s happening out there. ALL.THE.TIME.

There’s many reasons people lie about stuff, from a serious lack of integrity right through to feeling that this is how it’s done. Whatever the reason, it’s not okay. Any time you feel the need to stretch the truth or push beyond the limit of what’s actually true, please stop. (And if anyone tells you to do this – fire them immediately.)

The goal should always be the strongest verifiable claim. That is, the best evidence you have that you do what you say you’re going to do. Sure, polish it up and make it look good, but don’t cross the line.

For those of you that are now questioning your faith in the online business world, this isn’t meant to be alarmist.

It’s the Internet, people lie all the time – so it’s up to us to turn up the BS radar and figure out what’s what.  You’d do the same if you were online dating, right? So do yourself a favor and get a healthy dose of skepticism to protect your bank account and biz.

Embracing the dark side and being wise to it may seem unpleasant or negative, but the reality is it exists. It’s real. And it’s not going away.

If you’re going to succeed and do it on your own terms with an online business, you need to be aware of the dark side. That gives you the power to consciously choose to create something genuine and true as you work on running a successful online business. For you to not fall into the lure of those that choose to play this way.  The online world needs MORE people with high integrity and low BS.

[clickToTweet tweet=”Embracing the dark side of online biz from @magspatterson” quote=”Embracing the dark side of online biz from @magspatterson”]

blogging customer experience

The Big Problem with Your Blog

blog 6.25

You find yourself staring at a blank Google doc. Time: 12:22 a.m. It’s the night before you need to publish your weekly blog post.

You’ve got nothing. And you’re so tired.

Things are going to play out one of two ways at this point:

1. You write something to just get this off your list for another week. It’s not your best content, but it’s something.

2. You decide sleep is way more important and you skip another week of blogging. Soon weeks becomes months.

Houston, you have a problem with your blogging. Either of these approaches totally misses the point.

Why Are You Blogging Anyways?

It’s time for a quick recap. Blogging isn’t designed to be a repetitive task that tortures you week in, week out. Or to test your late night creative writing skills.

The point of blogging is to create content that connects with your audience. Content that people want to read and attracts them to your site. Most of all,  your content is there to help move people along their journey in your business. Your goal should be to get the right content to the right person at the exact right time.

Once you’ve mapped out your customer experience, you’ll have a good start on figuring out what your clients really and truly need from you.

Typically your content should fall into one of three categories:

Inform: Answer what they need to know to take the next step. What can you teach them to get them to the point where they want to work with you? How can you deliver value so they grow to know, like and trust you?

Engage: Eventually you want your readers to go from just consuming information to being open to engaging further. What do they need to know to get to this stage? How can you engage and encourage them? How do you break down and eliminate objections?

Challenge: Throughout your customer’s journey, you’ll need to create content that stretches what they know, pushes them in new ways and opens their minds so they can go further. How can you challenge their beliefs? Inspire them to stretch themselves?

The idea is that each piece of blog content you create supports a business goal and, ideally, a step in your customer experience map. Now if that sounds like way more work, I’m not going to sugar coat it ﹘ it’s definitely going to take some work, but the point is to create content that actually helps you meet your business goals.

Blogging randomly on a hodge podge of topics does nothing to help you actually build your business, and if that’s your plan of attack, I challenge you to figure out if you should keep blogging.

Tough love, I know. But if you have zero love for your blog, give it no love and won’t hire someone to love it up for you, WTF is the point?

You’ve got options. There’s no rule that says you need to blog. By sucking at blogging, you’re doing more harm than good. You’re attracting the wrong kind of clients and likely not much else.

[clickToTweet tweet=”When you suck at blogging, you do more harm than good. #stopit @magspatterson” quote=”When you suck at blogging, you do more harm than good. #stopit @magspatterson”]

Fixing Your Blogging Problem, Stat

If you’ve decided to stop this late night blogging rubbish, it’s time to fix your blogging problem.

Here’s how to make that happen:

#1. Map Out Your Customer Experience

Yes, I know, broken record. But get busy. This matters. You can find the step-by-step process for creating a customer experience map here.

#2. Determine Your Big Business Priorities for the Next Six Months

Blogging gets a whole lot easier once you know what’s happening in your business. Yes, things change. And sure, you’re going to add something in or kill off your last brainwave, but consider this a starting point.

Ask questions including:

  • What are you promoting, launching or selling?
  • What are common objections to each of these products or services?
  • What triggers people to buy?
  • What do people need to know to make a purchase?
  • Are you building your email list? What do they need to hear from you?
  • What do people need to know about your business?
  • How can you inject more storytelling and personality?

Start sketching out those answers and you’ll start to percolate with blog post ideas.

#3. Bring on the Content Storm

You’ve heard of brainstorming, right? Well, same idea, but for your blog content ﹘ so think of it as your content storm. You won’t need an umbrella but you’re going to need a little time to sift through all of your ideas.

Post-it notes are my secret weapon. Start by writing out ideas in line with your customer experience map, the categories and questions above. After that, start by sorting them into themes or patterns where you see them.

I find for a lot of my clients, having an overarching editorial theme by quarter or month helps them keep the blog content on track and doesn’t feel constrictive if a new idea comes up.

For example, if you’re a health coach, you may decide July is Summer Fun Month and focus on out-of-the-box workout and nutrition ideas all month long. This would help position you as someone who’s innovative and trustworthy, while both informing and hopefully engaging readers.

So, what’s it going to be? A little planning now to save you? Or keeping up with late night blogging hell and content that’s wasting space on your website? The choice is yours, blogger!

Introducing The Content Brewery

If you’ve decided you’re totally in for blogging, but OMG you need help, I’ve got you covered. I’ve brought together some of my most popular services in a single offering that I’m debuting this week.

The Content Brewery helps you create a master game plan for your blog and email content for six months at a time. Imagine, bringing in a pro (that’s me!) to help you sort through what to focus on for your blog, what your email opt-in should be and even what to write in those autoresponder emails you’ve been ignoring.

The Content Brewery is $100 off until June 30th. Limited spaces are available for Summer 2015.


content marketing strategy customer experience

5 Questions to Ask About Your Customer Experience

blog 6.18The concept of customer experience is nothing new. It’s been something of a trendy buzzword for the last several years, as companies focus more and more on ensuring their customers are satisfied, happy and keep coming back.

Customer experience doesn’t happen by chance. It takes research, design, testing and fine-tuning over and over again. Which is why so many companies struggle to actually deliver on the promise of customer experience ﹘ there’s simply too many places for a breakdown to occur.

It’s no wonder that even with the focus on customer experience, it’s still hard to find experiences that stand out. Take a second and think about the experiences you’ve had recently that rated higher than mediocre. (You’re probably struggling, right?)

Meanwhile, we’ve been conditioned as customers to expect more. Having a product or service isn’t adequate; what we’re really offering is an experience and story around that offering. So if you want to succeed, good enough is no longer good enough.

[Tweet “Because good enough isn’t good enough with customer experience. New post from @magspatterson.”]

Your business, no matter how big or small, needs to deliver on the promise of customer experience. Even as a small business. Even if you think you don’t have the time or money to deliver a great customer experience.

Customer experience is the #1 marketing strategy your business will ever have. Without focusing on customer experience, you’re missing the point. Getting new customers in your door isn’t going to matter if you don’t deliver what you promise or do what you say you’re going to do.  End of story.

Customer acquisition cost is real. According to Kissmetrics, it can cost 7x more to acquire a new customer, and marketing budgets are typically focused on customer acquisition, not retention.

What if you could shift gears? What if you could spend less time and energy on acquiring new customers (aka on marketing) because your existing customers are happily sticking around and referring new customers to you?

It is possible. Many a successful small business has been built with next to no marketing budget. It all starts with  creating a customer experience map.

Questions to Build Your Customer Experience Map

Before we dive into the questions you need to map out your customer experience, it’s important to note that your map is a living, breathing thing.

As you answer the key questions to create your map, keep in mind that it will grow and shift as your business evolves.  Here’s the top five questions you should ask:

#1. How Do Customers Find You?

Customer experience starts from the second they first find you. So understanding exactly how they find you is key to figuring out what’s working in your marketing, what’s not, how to best position your product or service and more. If you’re not sure, just ask. This could be a simple question on a consult call or at the point of purchase.  Knowing how they find you gives you additional insight into their behaviour and habits that make understanding them much easier.

#2. What Motivates Them To Engage With You?

We’re all motivated by different things, so you can’t assume that you know what will make them engage with you. Take your email opt-in, for example. What do they need from you to actually opt-in? What do they need to engage in the next step? Get inside their heads to find out if they’re motivated by making more money or making a difference.

#3. What Do They Need to Know Before They Purchase?

What moves someone from hanging out in your community or on your email list into purchasing? That question is likely one of the most powerful indicators of how you can create a winning customer experience. By answering the questions they have, making them feel comfortable with the idea of purchasing and then being happy to purchase from you can ensure that you create conditions for success and design an experience that feels good for them.

#4. What Happens When They Purchase?

If you’ve gotten them this far, you need to make sure you don’t blow it. There’s nothing worse than making a purchase and then having buyer’s remorse as you wonder what’s going to happen next. Breaking down this part of your process lets you ensure that the customer has the information they need and clearly understands what’s next.

#5. How Do You Engage Post-Purchase?

Once the purchase is made, you have a golden opportunity to continue doing business with the customer. So take time to map out what happens once they are done with your product or service. What do they buy next? How do you add value on an ongoing basis? How do stay in touch? Figuring out the various scenarios will help round out your customer experience map and ensure that your customers stick around.

When you’re creating your customer experience map, you want to include as much real-life data as possible. As a small business, you have the advantage of being able to gather and act on this feedback quickly.

Start by asking your customers for feedback on an ongoing basis and use it to fine-tune your efforts. When you receive negative feedback, look at where your customer experience needs a little bit of TLC. Schedule time monthly or quarterly to answer each of these questions so you’re on top of your customer experience map.

If you want to dive more into creating a customer experience map, you can get a free copy of the Surprise & Delight: How to Wow Your Customers Every Time Guide by entering your email below. It includes tips and tricks from 35+ successful small business owners.

And next week, we’ll be looking at how use these questions to create content your customers (and customers to be) really want.

[Tweet “New blog post: 5 Qs to answer about your customer experience from @magspatterson”]

customer experience Feisty Friday The Marketing Moxie Show

Episode #65 – Brand Experience: You Are Your Brand


We talk so much about our brand and think immediately of design, but what about the rest of the puzzle? Do you live your brand and truly embody it? Food for thought in this Feisty Friday show.

Items Discussed in this Episode:

  • I share some of my ‘hair-raising’ stories, and how it relates to your branding
  • How many seconds does it actually take to make a connection with your audience?
  • If you don’t walk your walk and talk your talk, you are doing your brand a disservice
  • It’s so easy to just become a commodity, I share how to avoid this
  • Nobody’s perfect, I make mistakes, but awareness is super important
  • I issue a challenge for your branding (don’t worry, I’ll be taking on this challenge with you!)

[Tweet “Brand experience, why ponytails aren’t great branding and more with @magspatterson.”]

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Links for this Episode:

Link to Free Marketing Moxie Facebook Group

customer experience The Marketing Moxie Show

Episode #49 – Creating a Sticky Brand with Jeremy Miller

episode 49Branding may be a big old buzz word and so many people aren’t sure what it really means. Jeremy Miller, author of Sticky Branding joins the show to talk about what exactly sticky branding is and how to make it work for our business so we can stand out.

Items Discussed in this Episode:

  • Jeremy defines what is a ‘sticky brand’ and lists some top brands that are considered ‘sticky brands’ and how they became that way
  • What is ‘tilting the odds’ and how can you apply it to your business?
  • Why being a ‘generalist’ can work against you
  • How Jeremy and his family re-branded their business to a specific niche to make it more successful
  • How to consistently show up in the discussion and being a part of the dialogue for your brand, but not become overwhelmed by trying to be everywhere at once
  • Why ‘busy work’ will be the death of your business
  • Jeremy’s favorite principle of his 12.5 and why it’s the foundation of building a brand

[Tweet “What you need to know about “trying to be everywhere” with @stickybranding “]

Top Takeaways for this Episode:

  1. Do you have a ‘sticky brand’? Look at your brand critically and ask yourself these questions:
    >>Would people refer me again and again?
    >>Am I the top choice?
    >>Am I remarkable?
  2. Learn how to ‘tilt the odds’. This means finding your competitive advantage. Avoid being a generalist. Find the niche or market that is your sweet spot where you can be the hands down leader.
  3. Work on having simple clarity. If you can’t explain in 10 words or less what you do and how you do it, there’s a big problem.This is one of the hardest things to do that I’m still working on too!

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Links for this Episode:

Sticky Branding Book

Link to Free Marketing Moxie Facebook Group