Sometimes when I wake up in the middle of the night, my mouth feels like a snake has slept in it and left its blanket behind. My mouth gets that uncomfortable woolly feeling that only a good cup of tea can resolve.
Now, just imagine that the cat’s got your tongue. It’s climbed into your mouth, and with its claws yanked out your tongue to ferry away and eat somewhere as a delicacy.
This creates a lively visual picture, vivid enough to have us believe that we cannot speak if the cat has our tongue.
“Cat got your tongue?” is an idiom that dates back to the 18th century and is asked of someone who is not responding. This is particularly so, for example when a child is asked, “Why have you not done your homework,” and there is silence. The adult would say, “What’s the matter, cat got your tongue?”
The most confident source on its origin comes from www.theidioms.com
“This phrase has an interesting origin. In the 18th century, the English Navy had the practice of whipping erring sailors with a whip which had multiple endings. This whip was nicknamed “the cat” because it commonly had nine endings. So, after receiving a beating, while the poor sailor lay in a corner sulking or not speaking, other sailors will walk up to him and tease, “Did the cat get your tongue?”, referring to the whip. As time went on, this became shortened to Cat got your tongue.
The expression “cat got your tongue” is always directed at someone else. You could never say in response to a question, “The cat’s got my tongue,” because by making this utterance you are making it clear that your tongue is well placed in your mouth and you are free to use it.
Last week, we spoke about the word ‘pivot’ and how it has become significant in the language. It’s not just a word, it’s an action point and here are 17 ways to go about it.
Worry and fear
Just like that we woke up in a different world! The coronavirus epidemic has completely changed our lives and transformed the way we do business.
For many, this can be an incredibly frightening time to be a business owner.
You worry about the health of your employees and the business, the bills that keep coming, your income and family obligations.
But rather than let worries overwhelm you, smart small business owners can use this opportunity to plan and prepare for future growth and success.
This handy COVID-19 checklist will help you make the most of this uncertain time:
1) Announce changes to business hours.
Are you an essential business that is staying open? You may have shorter business hours to allow more time for cleaning, or senior hours where high-risk and elderly customers can come and safely shop with fewer customers.
Post any new business hours on the front of your physical location and share them on the home page of your website.
Don’t forget to update your hours on your social media profiles too as well as your Google Business listing so everyone can stay up to date.
2) Pivot to meet the current needs of your customers
Find creative ways to do business with customers who are at home on quarantine. Are you offering pick up or delivery? Let customers know what you are doing to accommodate them during this new, and hopefully temporary, normal.
For example, amid shutdowns and shelter-in-place orders, most car dealerships will deliver your new car to you. Similarly, service-based businesses can pivot their offerings to meet the demands of customers who are staying home.
One example is a website landing page.
The advantage of a landing page is that it’s quick, easy, and allows you to speak to the specific needs of customers at this time without having to redesign your whole website.
3) Provide ways customers can still support you
If you operate a service-based business like a restaurant or a salon and have been forced to close your doors, you may want to consider offering online sales of gift certificates.
Encourage your customers to buy a certificate now so they can treat themselves and redeem it when the virus outbreak has slowed, and their self-quarantine period is over.
This can help maintain sales for you, while giving your customers something fun and exciting to look forward to.
4) Communicate with your customers.
People want to know if and how your business has changed in light of the pandemic. Assure them their health and safety are your #1 concern and tell them what you’re doing to ensure a safe shopping experience.
Explain any extra precautions you’re taking to disinfect and clean and let them know how you’re promoting social distancing as a small business owner.
5) Announce any new services you’re offering.
Whether you sell food or fashion, are you offering pickup or delivery? The more ways you can accommodate your customers during this new normal, the better for them and fewer financial losses you’ll experience.
Share the news on your website and on your social media accounts
6) Ditch out-of-date information and broken links.
It’s the perfect time to step back and take a long hard look at your website.
Are there any typos? Did a team member featured on the About Us page quit? Are certain articles no longer relevant?
Maybe your site is too far outdated and needs a complete overhaul. Don’t try to go it alone, it’s best to hire a professional web development firm who can assist in ensuring your site is professionally done to give your business the best exposure once this crisis is over.
7) Lighten the (remote) workload.
Give your staff easy ways to track their hours like the free time-tracking tool Toggl that we use. Encourage team communication with tools like Zoom, Slack or Discord. Look into team collaboration tools like Monday and Asana to manage project workflows.
8) Get lean and mean.
You’re going to have to accept that things may be tight for a while. Are there some non-essentials you could cut from your small business budget?
Re-evaluate the services you use to make sure you have the best value for your money, but don’t tighten your belt so much that you miss out on marketing or business opportunities.
9) Plan your editorial calendar.
You want to provide your customers with informative, valuable content that inspires them and builds your expertise and credibility in in their eyes.
If you have some downtime now, invest it in your future content. Look at what products and services you’ll want to promote down the road and plan some engaging content and marketing materials to support your efforts.
10) Learn a new skill.
Do you want to learn to use Instagram more effectively? Maybe you want to master your video marketing skills or learn a new language to better communicate with your customers.
If you can slow down a bit, grab the chance to read, learn and grow! This might be a good time to check out our AMPLiFY! Business Academy where members get instant access to a large library of training videos from social media marketing to lead generation and content marketing.
11) Make your employees feel safe.
Always communicate your COVID-19 plans to workers around sick days and compensation. If your employees have to come into work, assure them how you’re keeping their area clean and safe.
They are looking to you to feel taken care of during this scary time. That said, don’t lie or withhold negative information; if you can’t give bonuses or have to lay off staff, let them know as soon as possible and support them as best you can.
12) Attract more traffic to your site.
It’s always a great idea to add fresh, useful content to your website. Your visitors will appreciate solution-focused content that honestly speaks to why they need your product or service.
Focus on writing some keyword-rich articles to boost your search engine rankings.
13) Grow your social media following.
You may be self-isolating, but you can connect online! Message people who liked or commented on your social media posts to start a conversation.
Be active in the Facebook Groups where your ideal clients hang out. Be visible and helpful (not salesy and annoying) while you are making new connections and offering people a human connection.
14) Segment your email list.
Over time, email lists can get messy. Small business owners may lack the resources to write targeted messages for each group of potential clients (e.g., hot prospects, warm leads, new prospects, business colleagues).
Focus on segmenting your email list to make people feel like you’re speaking directly to them and offering them unique content.
15) Develop a new product or service.
Maybe you have a business idea that’s been on the back burner these past few years. Or, maybe you’ve identified a product or service that would really help people during or after the COVID-19 pandemic.
16) Perform competitive research.
Staying on top of what your competitors are doing gives you an incredible advantage, whether you run an established small business or are developing a new product or service.
Invest some time now in better understanding your competitors. How is their messaging different from yours? What are their strengths and weaknesses? How do they engage with their social media followers?
17) Share the love.
Don’t miss the chance to strengthen your most important relationships. Think about the people who are important to you (family, friends, customers, vendors, mentors, partners) and tell them what you most appreciate about them!
Stay Engaged with Customers and Keep Sales Alive During COVID-19.
While the COVID-19 pandemic is unprecedented and uncertain, let’s try to see these slow times for small businesses as an opportunity to think, review and plan for future growth and success.
Shakespeare was the theme of our Toastmasters meeting last week. We learnt about how much The Bard contributed to the English language – from general words and phrases to idiomatic expressions and even people’s names.
Retaining customers is always important, never more so than during lockdown when we all face a big don’t know in future months.
The only thing you can do is work on a retention plan to hold your customers’ attention, interest and account.
The main focus for any business, is often to win over new customers; however, there is success also to be found in a strong customer retention strategy and creating loyal customers.
What is customer retention? This is a measure of how well a company is keeping its customers over time and gaining repeat business. Building a loyal customer base should be the foundation for most businesses, with 25% – 40% of the total revenue of most stable businesses coming from repeat customers, and the good news is that getting customers to make a repeat purchase is easier than winning over new buyers as they already know who you are and should be able to trust you.
Follow these five tips:
The Power of Brand Storytelling
The internet has provided an amazing platform for businesses to reach a large customer base, but it also brings a lot of tough competition. It’s for this reason that winning over potential customers and creating a loyal consumer base takes more than just a website and a logo. Today it is important to have a story behind your brand that tells the customer who you are, why you got started, what you stand for and what your mission is.
Storytelling has become an important part of marketing and allows the customer to relate to your business and understand what you are about. Customers don’t purchase from you so you can make money, so you need to give them a reason to purchase and purchase again and again. One example of this is could be that your business set up to offer entirely vegan snacks, with everything from the snacks to the packaging being vegan-friendly; this kind of story might not only win over a consumer, but get them coming back to you and recommending you to others.
Focus on the customer
It is by no accident that research by the Institute for Customer Service puts Amazon at the top of the UK’s best customer service list. The CEO of Amazon, Jeff Bezos, is famous for saying “We’re not competitor obsessed, we’re customer obsessed.” The internet not only provides a great platform for businesses, but it also provides a great platform for angry consumers to vent their frustrations and make those frustrations known to a large audience. Keeping your customers happy is a prerequisite for any business and in doing so, you can help avoid your business being publicly named and shamed.
A good place to begin when making your business customer focused is mapping the customer journey. By looking at the customer experience you can see what needs to be improved and what’s working. Making sure that every team in your business is also customer focused is important, ensuring that no part of the business lets the consumer down. One way Amazon does this is by ensuring that all its managers spend at least two days working in the customer call centre.
Optimise social media
Social media, with Facebook, Instagram and Twitter being the most prominent, may or may not seem relevant to your business, but they are a great way to build a potential customer base and create brand loyalty. People who are interested in your brand, and your story, are likely to follow you on social media; this allows you to better understand your customer as most platforms allow you to look at follower insights, giving you a better understanding of the age range, like/dislikes and gender of your customer demographic. Social media also allows your business to keep your customers and followers up-to-date with new offers, new products and innovations and your brand story. It is also a great place for your customers to get in contact with your business, allowing you to solve issues quickly and gain feedback on what is and isn’t working.
This is not always possible but creative application may see this well utilised in business services too.
Creating a rewards or point-based system with your business is a great way to encourage customers to spend more and keep coming back. When creating a loyalty program, it is important to make sure it is offering value to the customer and doesn’t have goals that are unrealistic and uninspiring such as “Spend £2000 on your first purchase and get a 5% discount code”.
You can use your loyalty program to not only reward customers for making a purchase, but for creating an account or even tweeting about your business. Doing this not only encourages the customer to buy from your store, but to recommend it to others. Rewards in a loyalty program can also come in a variety of forms such as cashback, discount codes and free shipping, but you can also tie it in with your brand story and offer rewards such as charitable donations and product gifting to those in need. Make sure your customers are aware of your loyalty program by giving it an interesting name and promoting is across your email list, your website and social media platforms.
Think wrapper – packaging is key
You may have been told repeatedly not to judge a book by its cover, but today more than ever the packaging your product comes in is incredibly important. If your business is entirely based online then packaging is even more important as it will be the only point of contact with your company for most customers. The more creative and interesting your packaging, the more memorable your business will be and the more likely customers will be to share your brand, all helping your business grow and retain customers.
There are few things to consider when it comes to your packaging such as your demographic – who is your business selling to and what designs will appeal to them – personalisation – will your packaging be custom-made for each customer – and eco-friendly options – are you targeting environmentally conscious consumers? Your packaging can be a part of your brand story, showcasing what you are about and your purpose.
Keep your eyes open for new business
Focusing your entire business strategy on growing your customer base and winning new customers will mean you miss out on a potentially large chunk of revenue in the form of repeat business. By incorporating these top tips into your business model will not only help you build your brand and an audience of loyal consumers, but, crucially, generate a surge in profits.
Earlier today, I interviewed for a job teaching English in Spain. Wow. Sounds ama…zing right? But I messed up royally.
I fell on my sword.
Everything that could go wrong did. I was lucky to get the interview at all because I miscalculated the time difference between Spain and South Africa. I just happened to be online an hour earlier but I thought I still had an hour for preparation. I was supposed to go through the FAQs to be able to answer them in the interview. Answer them I did. Each and every one was incorrect!
My crimes are small. Stealing pens from the office, wishing ill will against my husband, and using a credit card which refuses to close no matter how many times I phone to request this. I must say I am enjoying this free money and the guilt has all but evaporated.