How To Get Your Shit Together

As part of this week’s ongoing series of “Help!  I need more people to buy my stuff!” articles, today’s focus is on making your ittybiz a whole lot more attractive to incoming prospects.  (Or, as referred to by the larger marketing community, “Getting your shit together.”)

If people aren’t buying from you at the level you need them to, you may feel like you’re simply not good enough. That’s pretty unlikely (as we talked about yesterday in the Confessional).

What’s probably really happening – and pay close attention to this because it matters – is that you’re not doing enough to get your prospects comfortable enough to buy from you.  They see your website, they look at your promotional materials, and they just don’t give them that “I’m ready to buy” feeling.

Fortunately for you, my lovely, that’s completely fixable.  And that’s what we’re going to talk about today.  Let’s start getting your shit together.

Let’s talk about what your customers are really looking for when they come to you.

People come to your business because they want you to improve their quality of life.

Maybe you’re improving it by helping them gain a healthier relationship with food. Maybe you’re improving it by taking beautiful photographs of their babies. Maybe you’re improving it by giving them a nice, pretty necklace to wear. Whatever. They’re come to you for an improvement or an upgrade.

But what they’re looking for when they come to your business is a business that has its shit together.

They’re not looking for stunning web design.  They’re not looking for impressive credentials.  Sure, those may be really nice things that make them feel like you have magic powers, and they may help sway a buying decision.  But it doesn’t lay the foundation for a buying decision.

What does lay that foundation, and what makes them a hell of a lot more comfortable buying your jewelry or your life coaching or your photography, is that you have the markers of a competent, established business.  And these markers are what make them buy from you instead of saying “Hmm. Neat.” and wandering off to rustle up a latte.

In other words, these markers let them see that whatever it is you do, you do it all the time and you have a process for doing it that proves this.

When you have these markers of an established business, assumption of competency goes way up.  The cash register rings.  They get what they want.  Everyone wins.

Now let’s talk about what you need to do to make that happen.

Think about the purchases you make every day – online, in-person, over the phone, whatever.  Think of what you see that makes you feel like the people you are buying from well and truly have their shit together.

If it’s a retail location, maybe they have their hours clearly posted on the door.  Or their telephone number on their window so you can see it when you drive by.  Or even a clearly lit sign that says “Open.”  You know this business is ready to take your money and give you things you want.

If it’s online, maybe the top of the jewelery website says “Orders shipped in 48 hours.”  Maybe the photography site says “Check out our packages.” Maybe the coaching site has a big link that says “Click here to get started.”  You know these businesses are ready to take your money and give you the things you want.

You want to start developing an eye for this when you go out to shop or go online to look at things you want to buy.  Look for these markers that say “We do this every day.  We know how to get what you want into your hands, and our process is a well-oiled machine.”

The reason you want to do this, of course, is to make the machine that is your ittybiz a well-oiled one as well.

Here are some ideas to get you started.

Basically, your prospects are looking for two things – process and options.

Process is what makes established businesses seem so established. It basically means that it’s glaringly obvious how customers can do the things they need to do, like:

  • Paying you!  Is it easy and simple for them to place their orders?  Do they have to search around for a way to give you money?  Is your shopping cart or PayPal account set up so that ordering from you is as easy as it would be from a bigger company?  (You know, the ones you already shop from?)
  • Getting their stuff!  If you ship something physical, do they know how long it will take to get to them?  Do they know what the shipping costs will be?  Do they know what business name will appear on the package?
  • Keeping in contact!  Is it easy for them to contact customer service?  To check on their order or service status?  (If it is, they’ll know that you have a process set up for this that they can trust even after their order).

Process is all about you.  It means that you make it easy for them to do the customer-y activities that customers do.  This shows you do it every day.

Note, however, that your process does not have to be perfect, it just has to be there.  It’s great if you can show shipping costs to the major countries you ship to, but if you can’t swing that you can always say “Call us for details at this number.”  It’s not perfect, but they know that they can at least get the information if they need it.

Same thing for customer service.  If you’re a tiny business who can only answer customer support via phone from 10am-1pm Monday and Friday, but you answer email each day, then you say that.  It’s not perfect, but they know there’s a process in place that they can depend on.

People will trust your process. They don’t much care what your process is. They just take comfort and security knowing you have one.

Options, though, are all about them. You want them to have appropriate options. (Note: that’s not necessarily LOTS of options. It’s the RIGHT options.) Setting up your options tends to be daunting, so you avoid committing to any. This is an area in which you have to fix the plane while it’s flying. My consulting page looks very different today than it did a year ago, and next year, it will be wildly different again. This is an organic process.

But that organic process needs to at least be in place now to help customers understand that you do the things you do often enough that it merits having options in the first place.  Options like:

  • Delivery methods!  If you’re shipping things, offering overnight shipping, priority mail or standard mail as options says you have some customers that want their things fast.  If you offer gift wrapping, that says you have customers that buy your things as gifts.  If you have volume discounts, that says you can handle customers who want a lot of the things you sell.
  • Different packages/products! If you offer coaching in single hour, four-hour and twelve-hour chunks, that says you have different types of clients who make good use of your time.  If you have targeted packages, like weight loss, nutrition and fitness coaching, that says that you can (and do) handle a variety of different things for your clients.
  • Different payment options! If you take credit cards, PayPal or checks, it says that you’re serious about making sure your customers can pay you easily.  If you offer single-pay and payment plans, it shows you can accommodate customers with different cash flow situations.  The more options, the more together you show yourself to be.

You don’t have to have a million options for everything, but having options in general shows your prospects that you are similar to the established businesses they already trust and buy from on a daily basis.

That trust means that you’ll get more sales, because if you have your shit together before they’ve paid, it’s a sign that you’ll have your shit together after they’ve paid.

What to do next

Here’s what you can do to start adding the “established business” markers your customers are looking for.

Make a list of three markers you can work on in the coming weeks.  Use examples from above, or just keep your eyes open for markers in the businesses you already buy from.  If you look, you’ll find a few that make you say “I should be doing that.”  Put those three on your list.

(If you’re stuck here, upgrade your payment buttons. The default PayPal or E-Junkie ones look like e-commerce for kindergarteners. Yes, I know half of mine are like that. That’s why I’m fixing mine next. You should probably consider doing the same thing.)

These three things don’t have to be perfect – they just have to be better than they are now.  Remember, your ittybiz is a living organism.  Evolution does not come in dramatic bursts.  Just do a little change every week, and you’ll get there.

We’ll be covering this topic and more in the Emergency Turnaround Clinic …

If you haven’t heard of the Emergency Turnaround Clinic, here’s what you need to know:

  • This is a 4-week class that’s for businesses that are hurting, and need to get money coming in fast.
  • Since we know that you’re hurting, the class is pay-what-you-can.
    (Seriously. If you only have $6.23 in your PayPal account, don’t think “I couldn’t pay that little – that’s not nice.” Plenty of people have paid what they found in the cushions of their couch, and that’s kind of the point.  If you need this class, you’re in good company.)
  • You can get all the details about the Emergency Turnaround Clinic here. We hope to see you there.

 

 

About the author: Naomi Dunford started IttyBiz in 2006. In her free time, she likes to… ha! Free time. You’re adorable. Learn more about her here and catch up with her on Twitter or Facebook.