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If you have an Internet business, or are curious about starting an online business, this Infographic will interest you. You see, it’s important to analyze major trends that are likely to make an impact in the next few years if you’re going to stay ahead of the pack in Internet business.

Here’s an excellent Infographic from the Staff.com team on Seven Shocking Stats & Trends about the Internet, so you can see what’s coming.
7 Shocking Stats & Trends About the Internet Infographic | Staff.com
Staff.com – Connecting Great Companies with Global Talent

 If you’re looking to do great work or want to build and manage teams of awesome freelancers, the online global outsourcing arena may just be the perfect fit for you.

Online global outsourcing is growing at a rapid pace with a projected growth of over 40% for the industry. The biggest platforms are oDesk, Elance and Freelancer. 99designs is really in a different category as it’s a crowdsourcing site more focused on design, whereas the other platforms encompass any type of online work. (Source: Biz 3.0)

The infographic below shows funding received, number of freelancers and jobs posted, percentage they charge and cumulative earnings of freelancers. Great information if you are interested in the online outsourcing space!

That may seem like a strange title for a blog post but recently Mark and I were getting ready for a long weekend with family. We live in a beautiful part of the Sunshine Coast in Australia, and quite often, especially on public holidays, family chose to make the most of our great location and visit, as was the case on that long weekend.

We decided it was beautiful sunny weather so we would go upstairs and clean our rooftop terrace so that we could spend some time up there on the deck. Mark came home from shopping and realized that I was still on the terrace and had been up there for quite some time. He came upstairs and asked, “What are you doing?” I was inside the spa bath, that we have on the terrace, and I said, “I’m just cleaning the spa.”  When he said “You’ve been there for so long! I quickly responded “I know because I need to make sure it’s perfectly clean.”

Mark reminded me that “it’s our family, they really don’t mind” and, without hesitation responded, “but my Grandson will be in the spa.”

I expected that our daughter was likely to  bring our 4-month old grandson up into the spa bath – they use it as kind of mini-swimming pool for him to help him soak: he loves his baths ;-) And it struck me that the way I approached the cleaning and preparation was totally different when I realized that my brand-new grandson would be in that spa.

It really made me start thinking about priorities and how that reflects in everything we do in life but particularly in our businesses. I thought to myself “Wow, would I recommend my products and services to people that I love?” Would I sell to my Grandson?

No, I am not saying here that your product and service must be suitable for your grandson. I can assure you that Reece has no interest or understanding of my social media marketing training, nor any use for it, and I understand that several of my clients have products and services that would be completely unsuitable for their grandchildren. But, think about it, if the people you love, your family members, your best friend, your colleagues: if they were looking for your product or service, would you recommend YOU?

Are you really the best in your field? Are you providing the best service that you possibly can?

Why that has become so vitally important, and why I’m asking you to put your products and services under a microscope is because social media will magnify whatever you are in terms of your business, service and product strengths. If you have fantastic customer service and you’re offering a great product at the right price, with sensational followup then social media will magnify that. You’ll get wonderful third party testimonials and viral recommendations that would be mainly positive. In fact in marketing terms, we all go searching for that holy grail of viral third party endorsement.

If however, your business is lacking in any areas, perhaps you’ve been really busy and your follow up is not so great or you have certain staff members that maybe aren’t that great in dealing with the public or are cutting corners – that also will be magnified by social media. But when corners are cut, or your businesses are not performing, then your social media presence would be mainly negative.

If you know already that you’re not quite keeping up with demand, your prices are too high or value too low, your quality is not where it should be, CHANGE IT. If you wouldn’t recommend your products and services to the people that you love most in the world, why should you be promoting it to anybody else?

Think about how you would act, how you would feel, and how you would care for your customers if they were your 4-month old grandchild about to get into the spa bath. Would you clean it differently? Would you provide a different service? Would you go above and beyond and care just a little bit more? Because your ideal target client, the client that you wish you had thousands of, is deserving of that level of service and care.

You have to strive to be the best in your field – I’m not saying that you are going to please everybody all the time. The very nature of working with the public means I find that impossible, but unless you strive to provide the very best possible service that you can to your clients then, quite frankly, you shouldn’t be in business and you definitely should not be using social media.

Social media will magnify your brand, purpose, intent, service and support. So make sure that what it’s magnifying is positive.

Have an awesome week!

The Black Friday and Cyber Monday Sales have come and gone for another year but in it’s wake this year I have been left with not only an empty credit card but an empty mailbox!  Today’s events have shown me how crucial customer service is to the success of your social media marketing and in fact your business success in general.  Let me explain…..

I’m a sale junkie (ask Mark)!  I’m prepared to plan, research (a lot), plot and wait to get the ultimate bargain.  In fact I hate buying anything that’s not on sale.  I don’t consider myself ‘cheap’ but rather savvy enough to want to get the ultimate value for my dollar, particularly when this is on discretionary goods (ie things I want rather than need).

So was the case with buying Mark a new Digital SLR for Christmas. For anybody following us, you know we were recently married and have held the honeymoon off until the end of the year.  So, with a month long holiday to capture, Mark’s camera became the focus of my bargain hunting activities.

I signed up for Cyber Monday updates, I was on all the mailing lists – I had done my research. I was on watch lists and deal alerts so, when I saw a great package for a Canon camera pack (2 lenses, case etc) at Target, I knew it was fantastic value.  A quick skype conversation to Mark to confirm he was willing to move from Nikon to Canon, and the deal was done.

I knew I needed to make a fast decision to take advantage of a deal that represented hundreds of dollars in savings.  Order placed online, credit card provided, order confirmation received, and camera was on it’s way – or so I THOUGHT?!?!

That afternoon, I received a call from my bank to confirm that this purchase was a legitimate transaction on my credit card as I was using our USA address for shipping (we are global citizens with businesses, addresses and telephone numbers in several countries).  All confirmed and camera was on it’s way – or so I THOUGHT?!?!?

The next day, after 3 emails confirming my order and showing me how to track it’s progress online, I received an email from Target headed, “Your order was canceled.”  The email stated simply, “There was a problem with your order…. as a result, we had to cancel it.  Still want the items you ordered? We can help. Just contact us”. So I used the link to their online form to contact them, thinking the bank authorisation may have been the ‘problem’, to have the order re-processed and the camera would be on it’s way – or so I THOUGHT?!?!?!?

That’s where the frustration and complete lack of customer service begins!  I’ll give you the short version to save your sanity and make my point.  Some 4 emails, 10 Twitter messages and Facebook posts later – we do not have a camera on it’s way to us or the money back on our credit card.  What has infuriated me the most is that 3 days later, the camera is still available for sale on their website at the same price!

So you have to ask, was this really such a great deal or are there hundreds or thousands of “us” out there that have given Target our money for orders that are never going to arrive?

There has been considerable backlash on social media about cancelled orders and orders that are not going to be delivered for 6-8 weeks (well after Christmas).  The social media team has stopped responding – Big Mistake – HUGE MISTAKE!

Now disgruntled customers like me are taking a small legitimate complaint to the internet and making a very big deal out of it.

This could have been handled (I believe) in one well crafted ‘personalised’ email with an explanation, apology and here’s how you get your money back information.  A gift card with ‘please do not let this stop you from shopping with us in the future’ would probably have prompted a blog post and social media exposure on how to turn a bad customer experience around!

Instead I’m writing this post and investigating where else to buy the camera from immediately.  I still have not received an explanation as to why the order was cancelled let alone an apology and/or solution.  Target still has a hold on the funds from my credit card and has not offered to ship the order even though the camera remains for sale on their website – what tha?

To top it off, the only non-pro forma email I have received advised me “Don’t worry” the charge will “drop off your account in the next few business days.”  BUT “If the charge does show up on your next statement, please get in touch

Hmmm - Is This Customer Service?

with us right away.” SERIOUSLY that’s what it said (see screen shot).

 

How do you think I feel about shopping with Target ever again?  Do you think I would recommend them to family and friends? I have spend thousands of dollars with them in the past – my Son even works for them!  But I have turned from loyal customer to anti-target campaigner in one bad transaction.

Hmm what would you say to Target if you were me? And, more importantly, what are your customers saying about your business and service? And how are you responding?

I ask that last question because I believe, from their side, Target does not feel they have done anything wrong.  For their own (unexplained) operational reasons, they cancelled an order they could not deliver, they will process a refund to my card and I can then go and buy a different product or from somewhere else.

BUT, put yourself in my shoes, or in the shoes of your client, and you see a disappointed, disgruntled person that has paid for an order that was cancelled without notice or explanation, now does not have the camera for a very important occasion, does not have the funds to go and buy elsewhere while sale prices are available, has been frustrated by lack of a personal response on the medium that I chose to order on (online) and am now venting my grievance on social media.

So there is the lesson in this for all business owners.  Put yourself in your client’s shoes and then respond as you would want to be treated.  Take the time to understand their grievances – truly listen and then respond in a personal fashion on the medium that is most convenient for them – not you.

In the era of digital commerce and two-way conversations on Social Media – mass automated, non-committal responses pumped out to prompt customers to chase you for service is simply “Right OFF Target”.

Oh and Target if you are listening,  I’d love you to chose to turn this experience around and happy to report back on the blog if you do….. we’re waiting.

Mark, this means I’m back to looking for the ‘perfect’ camera deal for you – sorry don’t blame me, blame Target!

 

Tell Us….
Have you had a terrible customer experience?  What did you learn from it to improve your own business? Or how could the company have turned your bad experience around?
We’d love you comments below or on twitter at:
www.twitter.com/MarkandZoe
or share with our Facebook Community at:
www.facebook.com/MarkandZoe

Have an awesome day, I’m off camera shopping…….

 

My new business cards arrived and, as I was going to a networking event, I popped a bunch in my pocket and headed out. It wasn’t until later that night when I was asked, “Do you know Zoe deLuca?” (while the person looked straight at my card I had just given them), that the value of a name really sunk in for me.

You see my new business cards have my ‘new name’ on them. When I say new name, I should probably explain…….

After 11 years together Mark and I finally got married last week. And along with the ceremony (and party) I also ‘got’ a new surname. So Zoe deLuca is morphing into Zoe Wyatt.

So what? I know lots of people get married each year and take on their Husband’s surname. But, when you have spent the last 8 years building a brand online based on your personal name (as I have) then this becomes a major “issue”.

If a person standing in front of me with my card, did not automatically make the connection that I was the same Zoe then how is my market, and potential clients, going to do this on the internet?

The reality is that I ‘could’ retain deLuca for my professional branding. In fact I still have, www.zoedeluca.com and my Twitter profile is still @zdeluca but do I really want to have to juggle two names going forward? One for personal use and one for professional? What a hassle.

What this has brought up to me is the importance of not just your ‘name’ but your ‘Branding’ in internet marketing (including social media marketing). So, what does your name or brand online say about you and your business right now?

Are ‘you’ your brand? Is your business based around your personal name and, if so, is this optimal for you? You may not be thinking about changing your name any time soon but what if you change your core product or service offerings?

My Social Media services did not even exist 5 years ago and they continue to ‘evolve’ (ie change) rapidly. Imagine if I’d branded as ‘MySpace Specialist’ three years ago, I’d need to re-brand anyway.

Even if your branding is not based on your personal name, the name you chose to brand on is vitally important in business generally, but in internet & social media marketing especially. When developing your online brand consider these aspects:

  • Does your brand name accurately reflect your business?
  • Does your brand instantly identify what you do/offer?
    If not, do you need to incorporate a tag line to do this?
  • Can you secure the .com web address for your brand name?
  • Is your brand name consistent across all social media sites?
  • Is your brand already in use in social media accounts and will this cause confusion for your clients?
  • Have you considered transition of your business? Will you want to sell in the future or pass to a family member?

With all of this to consider “branding” is a huge decision to make.  In fact, to answer my original question, “What’s in a name?” – obviously, in the world of internet marketing, a great deal.

My decision has been to establish three clear brands:

  • Social Media ShortCut – for my Social Media Marketing Training
  • MarkandZoe – for our virtual, multiple income stream business together.  With the tagline of
    “Make The World Your Office” to make it easier to understand what the business is all about, and
  • Zoe Wyatt – for personal social media use and interacting with family and friends.

I’d love to hear of your branding decisions and challenges.  Are you looking to re-brand or overhaul your brand?  Leave your comments here or over on our facebook page at:
http://www.facebook.com/markandzoe (you’ll notice it says Zoe deLuca at the top that I can’t change ;-) )

I’m off to start the great name change……

Yep – the weather man got it wrong – suprise right???

See 3 days ago when we left Australia to head for a an elite Internet Marketing Training in New York, the forecast was for fine, hot weather. Well, um we’re here now and it’s raining and about 16 degrees.

Which just proves to me that in business, as in life, no matter how well you ‘plan’ things have a way of turning out the way they are going to ‘turn out’.

I see so many Entrepreneurs ‘planning’ their business to the “nth” degree only to never get around to getting into action and actually making money!

So it’s fitting that the first training at the “10 For 10″ event that we are attending was on the essential elements of an Internet Marketing Business and how to balance learning your craft with producing results.

To give you details of what we are learning would take me hours but the one takeaway I want to give you is this:

Develop the Plan but then Work the Plan!

Don’t let “Perfect” get in the way of “Great”.

I’m off to learn lots more and then IMPLEMENT IMMEDIATELY. Oh and buy an Umbrella ;-)