Icon representing a gift, deal or special offer

Free this, half price that, Two 4 One, Buy One Get One Free, 20% off…

There’s no getting away from it, everyone loves a deal!  Today, customers from all walks of like are fully engaged with the deals/special offers culture, taking great pleasure and comfort in getting that ‘great deal’.

But what’s in it for small businesses?  Historically, not a lot for some it seems, especially when it means being overloaded with customers paying discounted prices and unable to offer the usual great service and losing the business money to boot because you gave 50% or more away to a ‘deal broker’

Image showing deals and offer tagsHowever, it doesn’t have to be like that.   Imagine if you could offer an attractive deal or special offer, that…

  • Attracts new customers through the door
  • Costs just £1 each time a customer buys one
  • Is marketed free and available to customers 24/7
  • Instantly redeemable using any internet connected device

Miquando local deals have all the upside of the daily deal websites and coupon clipping but none of the downsides by allowing businesses to…

  • Get started with no up-front costs
  • Run deals & offers for however long you want
  • Avoid overloading and the usual operational havoc
  • Directly target under used capacity only
  • Limit availability – Stop, start or change a deal instantly
  • Make a deal/offer profitable

So how do I do it?

1st thing to do is give a little thought to what you want to achieve with an offer.  It might be any of the following.

  • Increase brand awarenessBeauty Bar deal image
  • Advertise a new product or service
  • Boosting sales
  • Attract a new set of customers
  • Convert new customers to repeat customers
  • Increase visits from existing customers
  • Using excess stock
  • Rewarding customers / buying loyalty

You just add a new service and tick the check box to highlight this as a special offer and add a great image or photo that really sells the offer.  If you want, you can limit when customers can book this deal so you are only discounting in quieter periods to help fill spare capacity e.g. a midweek early bird dining offer.  To do this, simply add a new resource for this service with limited booking times

Add a new Resource that is only available to be booked between 5:00pm and 6:30pm, Monday to Thursday

Image showing local deals pageThat’s it – we’ll start promoting your deal on the date your new service is set to start (immediately or a future date) and it appears on the relevant regional deals page (e.g. http://miquando.com/deals/isleofman).

Customers both new and existing, local or visitors to the area, are always on the lookout for deals and offers using our regional deals pages.  To keep a flow of new visitors, we regularly promote these pages through targeted social media and other online campaigns.

Ready to get started?  Give us a call on 01624 640393 or Click Here to send us an email

 

Still not convinced, look at these independent findings from Technomic’s research into online deals….

  • 48% of deal buyers used it for a business that they had never tried before
  • 25% used for a place that they have visited only once before;
  • 67% returned even without a deal;
  • 83% recommended the business to their friends and family
  • 34% wrote a review
  • 25% posted a status on their Facebook page
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Customer service is dead, long live the “Customer Experience”. In the jungle of the online world, the opportunity to enhance what used to be customer service is gathering speed.

Not eighteen months ago, we were still telling each other that sms, emails and even chat bots were a flimsy substitute for a good face-to-face conversation. The noise about how impersonal electronic communications can be is now becoming a distant hum as perceptions are changing, thanks to a new generation of businesses.

This new breed of business focuses on the customer service experience, in relation to the product, service and overall business model; this of course takes the focus away from large and expensive marketing strategies. The old adage of “personality goes a long way” really can go a long way.

“I might not have a flawless complexion but everyone wants me at their party baby!”

Focusing on the customer experience affords the business the opportunity to develop its personality / USP in a more meaningful way. 58% of consumers are destined to become returning customers if they have a great experience; and, as with any great experience, the customer is going to talk positively to a handful of people about the experience. Empathize with them and understand what they want, value them and show them you appreciate them, a special offer here, a gift voucher there.

Image of steaming mug

The best companies don’t use excessive marketing campaigns they just deliver fantastic experiences for their customers. Adopting practices that develop the customer service experience provides a solid base to build business from.

“So err, are you experienced? Have you ever been experienced?” – jimi hendrix

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Photo of Manx money

You’ve invested, time, skills and probably a fair few quid building an online presence for your business, but is it working for you?  If your website, facebook page, or app doesn’t convert visitors to paying customers it’s not really doing its job and needs a second look.

Here’s a 5 things to look out for…

  1. Does it look good?
  2. How does it “speak” to a potential customer?
  3. Do your “Calls to action” engage people?
  4. Are you making the most of your reputation?
  5. Are your online directory listings up to date?

 

1.      Does it look good?

Make sure your photos and images look good, by using high quality images to help make a great first impression. There’s plenty of decent ‘stock’ photos available for just a few pounds, but even better is a photo of your own business in action.

Think about what a potential customer might like to see and take that shot. For example, how many times have you looked at an empty restaurant and thought “hmm, I’ll keep looking.” So, take a photo of your restaurant when it’s full of life, or maybe get some shots of some freshly made, colourful dishes that make people hungry at the very sight of them.

 

2.      How does it sound?

So your great looking photos have caught the eye. Now they’ll start reading.   Does it sound like something they want? Are you talking your customer’s language?

Take the food scenario again – you need to talk the language of the customer you want through your door. If your target is couple’s maybe focus on romance and intimacy. If it’s larger groups, make it buzz, or if it’s all about the food, tell them about the food.   Oh, and try and make sure it matches your photos too.

 

3.      Calls to action!

Right, you’ve caught their eye, tickled them with your text, they’re hooked! Now all you need to do is land them.   Do your calls to action reel them in? Convert a prospect to a customer? Or is it just a sad old “contact us” page or form?

This is your chance to grab some new business, make a few quid, so don’t screw things up now! People today, expect to be able to connect (chat in real time) or seal the deal there and then. Back in the restaurant world for example, they want to make a booking – instantly and then tick a job off their “to do” list. Ideally you want your calls to action to be effective 24/7 too – because your customers will too.

 

4.      Your online reputation

Building and leveraging your online reputation is pretty straightforward. Not only does your reputation help visitors make the choice to become customers, asking for and getting feedback from your customers is a great way to engage them and build loyalty.

Let’s be honest, nobody puts any stock in the “quotes from customers” you put on your site 2 years ago. However, the moment they see recent feedback and comments from real customers on an independent reviews site, they will believe what they see. Add links to or embed ratings and reviews in your site, and to convert more visitors to customers

 

5.      Review your online directory listings

Up to date and accurate listings in online directories will help drive visitors to your website, social media pages. Directory listings with out-dated information and broken links can cost you both visitors and money.

Clear your cache or use incognito or InPrivate mode, to make sure you get a default set of search results and look for your business. Check the results to make sure your directory entry details are up to date, or make changes where necessary. You can also include your website and social media links to help drive traffic across all of your online channels.

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Today’s customers don’t hang around.  If they can’t speak to you, find what they need online immediately or get a speedy reply to a message, they’re off – and usually to your nearest competitor !

Image of stressed busy lady

Not being able to answer the phone, or taking too long to reply to an email enquiry is why most small/micro businesses are losing sales on a daily basis.  Read on and take a moment to understand how much these missed calls and contacts are costing you and we’re sure you’ll want to know how you can make 2016 the year you stop losing so many sales unnecessarily.

 

So how much does every missed call/contact cost? 

  • Around 85% of people whose calls are not answered will not call back !
    • Approx 75% won’t leave their name, number or any message!
  • 60% of consumers will go elsewhere if your response to their email takes longer than 12 hours

Example Costs

ABC Physiotherapy is run by Jayne.  She get’s around 60 phone calls a week and maybe 40 email enquiries.  Because Jayne is often busy with clients, it’s difficult for her to answer her phone during the day, and emails often have to wait until the evening or weekend before she get’s a chance to respond.

Burning cash imageResearch suggests she will be losing around 21 enquiries or potential sales every week – that’s well over 1,000 lost opportunities each year.

Jayne’s has calculated here average revenue per enquiry to be around £30.  That’s over £30,000 lost revenue, simply because she’s with a client, or just taking a well earned ‘me moment’!

How can you fix it? 

Well you could always employ someone to help, but there is an effective much more cost effective way any business can fix this problem.

  • Use an online booking service like Miquando.com – it’s quick and easy to set up, you don’t need anything more than an internet connection and it’s totally free to get started.

How does online booking help me?Example online booking screenshot

  • If you’re too busy to answer the phone, or heaven forbid you’re actually getting some time off, simply use your answer phone to tell people they can book online by visiting your website or Facebook page and experience shows many will do just that.

Even better, you don’t have to worry about trying to find out who called and spend time trying to call them back!

  • They can use your online booking service at their own convenience whenever they want, from wherever they like, using any device with an internet connection

They get an immediate response by email and/or SMS acknowledging or confirming their booking request.  You don’t have to anything!

  • You can reduce lost sales and revenue by over 50%

The end result for you is happier customers, better reviews, more profit and best of all, less hassle

 

If you’d like to know more about how online booking can help you and your business, give us a call on 0845 564 0000 or Click Here to schedule a convenient time and we can call you.

 

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One of the great things about having lots of data is taking the time to make sense of it – essentially turning data into useful information.

Update your free local business directory entry

One very useful piece of information we have discovered is that updating your online information regularly really does help you get found more frequently.
We’ve been analysing lots of data over a couple of years now and there’s a very real correlation between businesses that update their profiles regularly (at least every 90 days) and how often they show up in search results.

That seems to be the case not just for direct searches on our free local business directory, but also stands for click through traffic from the major search engines (Google/Bing/Yahoo etc.) to business profiles on MiQuando.com.

 

 

View this infographic shows where the biggest gains can be made from an up to date MiQuando profile.

 

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The latest set of Internet statistics were released this month by the Office of National Statistics.  The numbers make for some impressive reading.

Below we take a look at 3 key areas for small businesses.

1.  If your business has no, or a weak online presence you’re likely missing out with…

        • 38 million internet users every day in Great BritainGB Internet Statistics - Source ONS
        • 91% of users aged 16-24 use social media on a daily basis

Time to get online and active with social media. Related Article – A Facebook Page is Not Enough!              

2. If your business doesn’t sell, transact or book online, what happens to the…

  • 37 million online shoppers in Britain
  • 90% of 25-34 year olds buy goods and service online
Time to “e-nable” your business with a shopping cart or online booking service. Read more

3.  Mobile internet usage has more than doubled since 2010.  Your website needs to be mobile friendly to meet the needs of…

  • 54% who now use the internet via a mobile device
  • More than 25 million mobile internet users in GB

 Time to update your website and make it responsive to smartphones and tablets.

Click here for a PDF showing Isle of Man Internet Usage Statistics 2014 – Estimated

 

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 Some buzzwords for online shoppingIrritating buzzwords to explain the fact that people shop online a lot in 2014?

Yes, they might be annoying phrases, but their real message is that people do more than simply use a computer when they shop online.

And that’s something that every business needs to consider carefully.

Today it wouldn’t be uncommon for someone to click an online advert, get an offer via email or see something on social media that tickles the part of their brain that says “I like that / I want one of those”. 47% of consumers start their purchase journey on mobile.  (Google/Ipsos)

  • They might do a bit of In-store browsing on the high street, outlet village or shopping mall if it’s convenient or perhaps use their mobile to do a little research on their mobile, or seek opinions on this amazing thing you found via social media.
  • Go online later that day on their tablet or PC to do price comparisons and check customer reviews of product and seller, and maybe go on to make that purchase online from the comfort and convenience of the sofa.
  • Let friends know about the latest bargain with a little social media update from a smartphone.
  • Purchases are delivered swiftly to the door, or ready to collect in-store the following day.
  • Delighted with an online bargain, it’s time to share the overall experience and let fellow shoppers benefit from shared knowledge by leaving ratings and reviews using a tablet.
  • Finally get the smartphone out and post a ‘selfie’ with the new purchases!

Or maybe a completely different combination, but you get the point that the way people buy things has changed and will continue to change.  51% shop online while on two or more screens simultaneously.  (Microsoft)

 

Devices used for online shoppingBig businesses are spending huge sums of money trying to capture these online shoppers, on different platforms and devices, something that is just not feasible for small and micro businesses, but that doesn’t mean they should just roll over and die.

Small and micro business owners need to take the time to understand how customers buy in 2014 and look to take advantage by enabling as many ways as possible for customers to interact with them.

There are any numbers of low/no cost ways small / micro business can adapt and get a slice of this online business.  A good website need not be expensive,  social media accounts are free and help engage with customers, free entries in online directory listings help people find you online, whilst adding ratings & reviews, a shopping cart and online appointment booking can easily be done on a small budget, by adding and integrating 3rd party components.

Customer journey for online shoppers

Figure 1 How customers buy in 2014

Businesses can sign up for a free, search engine friendly local directory listing by visiting www.miquando.com and clicking the Add Your Business link (top right).

Not only do businesses get perhaps the most comprehensive entry available of any local business directory, completely free, they can take advantage of these additional fantastic opportunities:

  • Use highly targeted internet advertising to attract new business
  • Gain new customers via the built in direct mail facilities
  • Build an online reputation by adding the independent ratings and reviews to your own website, quickly and easily and 100% free
  • Offer online appointment booking to your customers via Miquando, your own website, direct maillings and even your social media pages
  • And more great new free and low cost features being added each quarter
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Proshinbe car valet at workSteve Woodard runs ProShine Valeting and Paint Restoration.  Steve and the Proshine team are very flexible and offer the convenience of coming to with the mobile valeting unit or for bigger or more complex jobs there is a the option of using the workshop.

In addition to his regular private clients, Steve also has agreements in place to provide special deals to selected corporate clients on the Isle of Man.

Always on the lookout for opportunities to grow the business or find efficiencies, Steve came across MiQuando and immediately saw the opportunity to provide his corporate clients an added value service in Online Booking, and at the same time take away the hassle of trying to arrange all the staff appointments.

In the first two months of introducing the online booking service to corporate client Royal Skandia, Proshine received just under 50 online bookings from staff, with non of the administrative overhead, as all the confirmations, notifications and reminders were automatically and seamlessly handled by the MiQuando booking system.

Steve said – “The team at Miquando helped me to get up and running in no time at all.  I could then create a unique link we could send in an email the client’s staff.  All they had to do was click the Book Now button in the email, choose a convenient date and enter a few details and that was it; job done.”

The Online Booking system is highly configurable so businesses can set it up to work just they way they want it to, and choose manage their booking requests manually or accept them automatically, and be kept informed via the website, emails and/or text messages.

Steve added – “It’s all so easy and saves me loads of time and effort, plus the client loves it too.  We can see all the bookings coming through on emails or via the website, and we know exactly what we have waiting for us on site.  It works a treat for us.”

If your car is in need of a little TLC and you want get that showroom look and feel back, get those scratches and scrapes sorted, or even your wheels refurbished, click here to get in touch with Steve and the Proshine team.

 

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Begging for Facebook Likes

Begging for Facebook LikesI’m sure you will have experienced the same irritating increase in posts from ‘friends’ on Facebook ‘liking’ XYZ company just because they are giving away some great prize (well, might be!).

 I can’t be the only Facebook user ‘Un-friending’ people that regularly ‘like & share’ these pages and simultaneously turning my back on these businesses too.

Maybe this is just me, but all this liking and sharing smacks of desperation from both ‘liker’ and ‘likee’ if there are such things!

iOS 7 Illegal Facebook like and share contestYou can maybe understand the person, who attracted by the chance of winning something but come on folks open your eyes.  Surely you can see that most of these are just nonsense where no prize actually exists.  For those that do come from ‘real’ businesses, you should be aware that there are no ‘competition rules’ so they can do what they want.  Either way, you are generally being made to look like a mug when you ‘like and share’ to win.

According to Facebook this kind of behaviour is against their guidelines (read more) which state you cannot:

  • Post a message on your wall and call it a contest/competition
  • Make liking your page an automatic entry to a contest.

Facebook is in danger of being swamped with desperate businesses ‘begging for likes’ and users apparently desperate to win something perpetuating these annoying and often outdated posts.

OK, so times are tough, but surely I am not alone in disconnecting myself from people I thought had more sense and businesses using this tactic.  In my opinion both parties are simply eroding their reputation by participating.

Facebook must either take action against business that are clearly operating in breach of its guidelines or risk losing the ability to connect and communicate with sensible people.

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MiQuando Facebook Icon

MiQuando Facebook IconWe see a number of small/micro businesses registering on MiQuando.com with a Facebook Page as their website address.  Trouble is, most of them are still just the horrible default name.

Your default Facebook URL is a randomly generated number that identifies your page to Facebook.  It’s dull, meaningless, has no link to your business and is not very searchable e.g.

 https://www.facebook.com/profile.phd?id=47825911x

If you didn’t know you could change your Facebook Page name (or haven’t bothered to) then you are missing out on a simple, quick and free marketing opportunity.

Personalising your Page Name/URL makes it far easier for people to find your business, brand or company Facebook presence.

What’s more, you can then use your new meaningful Facebook Page name in your marketing material, website and business cards e.g.

 https://www.facebook.com/FindItClickItBookIt

It’s a simple change to make and Facebook provides step by step instructions here https://www.facebook.com/help/409473442437047/.

Oh, and don’t forget to update your details on MiQuando™

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