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Plan Your Appointments

March 27, 2015
appt

After Pilates class on Saturday, I walked to my local nail salon eager to revise my Frankenstein looking chipped black nails for something, well a little more polished. To my horror (literally you should have seen my face) they were booked. The manicurist asked if I had an appointment —- an appointment, hmm what a novel idea. My nails (still chipped) were the impetus for this post.

For the most part, each year you’ll have the same type of appointments — two dental cleanings, one doc visit, six hair colorings, 25 nail appointments. What if you got organized and actually booked these in advance? Think about the time you would save, the preferential dates and hours of appointments you’d secure and a whole lot less stress from begging for someone to “fit you in”.

Here are our five best tips for getting your appointment life organized:

1. Make a list of what appointments you’ll need for the year and categorize them. For example:

Beauty:

Hair, Nails, Waxing

Medical:

Dentist, Doctor, Acupuncturist, Optometrist

Other:

DMV, Accountant, Psychic

2. Look at each individual type of appointment and decide in what month you’ll need to have the appointment.

For example:

Hair: Every Other Month

Nails: Every Month

Accountant: Once Per Year

3. During the first week of each new quarter: January 1, April 1, July 1, October 1 – book all of  your appointments for that three month time period.

For example:

Quarter 1: 2 hair appointments, 3 nail appointments and an accountant appointment need to be made.

4. Store your appointments on an online calendar like Google Calendar so you can access it from any computer.

5. Set a reminder two weeks before each scheduled appointment to confirm it still works with your schedule — we get it, things come up!

MISS Musings, MISS University

Search Terms: Understanding Your Customer

March 23, 2015
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The Internet has forever shifted the buyer/seller relationship. As David Meerman Scott shares in his best-selling book The New Rules of PR and Marketing, traditional media like advertising assumes that the customer is ready to buy, but today’s consumer want to be educated before they make any purchase decision. Think about what you would you do if you were in the market to buy, for example, a new car. What would you do first? Answer – you’d Google it.

What are customers looking for – and how to help them

Today’s businesses have the opportunity to go directly to their consumer, which is why an online presence is so important. Your website allows you to talk directly with your customer and share how you meet your customers’ needs through the products and services that you offer. But as my co-author Pat Gallagher and I share in our book Big Game Bigger Impact, too often companies focus on their product’s attributes versus the needs of their customers in their marketing, and then don’t understand why their messages aren’t connecting with their customer. First, you need to identify the needs of your customer and then demonstrate how your products or services fulfill that need. As marketing guru Seth Godin said very succinctly, “Don’t find customers for your products, find products for your customers.”

Connecting with your customers through search terms

But how do you get customers to your sites in order to share how you meet their needs? Your site needs to be discoverable. There are a few different ways to rise in the ranks of Google, but today, we’re going to focus on specifically on search terms and how to think like your customer.

First, a definition. A search term is the exact word or set of words that a customer enters in Google or other web browser when they are doing a search. They are the natural language that a customer would use and not just keywords that online advertisers use to group like customers.

How to determine your own search terms  

The best place to start is what you want to be known for.

For example, when Soulstice Mind + Body Spa in Sausalito, CA introduced meditation to their suite of services, they wanted to be known as the go-to location in Marin County for meditation classes so they selected “meditation in Marin” as their most important search term. Learning where and how to do meditation in Marin County were two important needs of their customers. Or take Hawaii Islander, the premier online destination for all of your Hawaii travel needs. One of their popular customer services is customized travel itineraries that give the traveler a local’s knowledge of the best spots in Hawaii, so they want to be known for search terms such as  “how to plan a trip to Hawaii” and “Hawaii travel packages.”

Don’t know what your keyword phrases should be? If you are a Google Ad Words user, you can use the Google Keyword Tool for free. But if you are not, here are a few tips for identifying keyword phrases from the Wix Academy:

  • Be specific. When brainstorming keywords, chose words that describe what you and the services or products you sell. Are there words you can use to better describe for your business? For example, if you are known for your croissants, try “fresh croissants baked daily in San Rafael” versus just “San Rafael bakery.” Think about what differentiates your business from the competition.
  • Remember to put yourself in your client’s shoes. This isn’t what you’d Google to find your business but what your clients will Google. You might be describe yourself as an artisanal bakery but your clients might call you a coffee shop. Think like your clients do.
  • Get insights from your competition. Think of the terms your clients would use to find a business like yours online and then try Googling those terms. Do any of your competitors come up? If yes, you are on the right track.
  • Show off your specialities: If you have highly competitive terms, think about how you can be a little more specific to specialize. If you are a wedding photographer in Marin County, what else could you add that might differentiate you from the other wedding photographers. Do you have a specific style, like a photojournalistic approach versus a studio approach, that could set you apart? Showcase what makes your business special.

And in selecting your search terms, go multi-word. Here’s why:

  • Single word is too broad. Just typing in “meditation” or “Hawaii” would be too broad. For example, with our book Big Game Bigger Impact is about the lessons learned from hosting Super Bowl 50, so if we just selected “Super Bowl” as a search term, we would be very low in the Google rankings.  I’m looking for folks who are interested in the Super Bowl, but more specifically, those who are readers and would be interested in a book a particular Super Bowl – I need to be more specific.
  • The user is evolving. Research shows that users are typing in longer queries into Google. Users are more savvy and are more likely to be more specific in their queries so by having the right search terms, you can help the user find you quicker.
  • Search is customer driven. The goal is a 2-5 keyword phrase in natural language. Google has shifted away from keyword-focused content and more on natural language, so your search terms should reflect the way your customer would naturally search.

Put your search terms into action  

There are many things you can do with your keyword phrases on your website’s backend through meta descriptions and h1 and h2 tags, but even if you aren’t tech savvy, you can still make an impact.

  • Incorporate naturally. Ensure your search terms can be found on each of your website pages using natural language. And not just in the body copy; be sure to include in page and blog post titles, as image alt text, in your page descriptions, etc. Remember, it’s not about stuffing each page with nonsensical terms, which “turns off” the Google web crawlers. Search terms should be incorporated more organically into your site.
  • Write more. Google loves fresh content – it shows that a site is alive and well, and is a good source of information for Google users, so create more content that shows off those search terms naturally.

by Stephanie Martin

Stephanie Martin is the founder of marketing and communications consultancy, Martin Communications, and author of the book Big Game, Bigger Impact: How the Bay Area Redefined the Super Bowl Experience and the Lessons that Can Apply to Any Business.

Brainy

Are You a Hoarder?

March 7, 2015
stuff

Can’t get rid of stuff–ever? Do you have a room in your home stuffed with anything and everything — a place where you just hope no one ever enters…ever thought you could have a bit of a hoarding problem? The Mayo Clinic says hoarding is “the excessive collection of items, along with the inability to discard them.”

There are even animals that are hoarders. The Arctic Gray Jay stores 100,000 mouthfuls of berries, insects and spiders so that he has enough food for the winter. A male species of bird called Black Wheaters, spend time piling up heavy stones before mating season–a way to advertise to their potential mates that they’ve got Darwinian fitness.

Researchers have recently discovered various patterns that many hoarders have:

  • hoarding runs in families – so it could be genetic.
  • hoarders tend to be emotional.
  • they tend to attach to things very sentimentally.
  • they think of their stuff – like coffee cups and newspapers – like you think of your finest jewelry.
  • they are often intelligent and well educated.
  • they have a profound inability to make decisions.
  • they are overtalkers.

Psychologists say hoarding is different than OCD because people don’t respond to treatment with antidepressant drugs and hoarders actually like being surrounded by their stuff. In a study in the American Journal of Psychiatry, hoarders were shown to have lower activity in the cingulate gyrus—a structure that runs through the middle of the brain, front to back—particularly in areas known to be involved in decision making and focusing attention. Researchers now think drugs like Ritalin (used for ADD) could help by improving concentration and attention.

Perhaps you’re the opposite of a hoarder — your home is so tidy and neat you don’t have a single piece of excess. Researchers say some people are the opposite of hoarders and have a compulsive need to discard — called compulsive spartinism. But that’s for another day.

Consignment Shopping

Consignment Stores: Cash and a Cleaner Closet!

January 6, 2015
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It’s a little easier to get rid of ‘stuff’ when you’re making money off of it–and one of the best ways to get organized is to have less to actually organize. Enter: the consignment store.

There’s a big difference between resale and consignment. Shops like Buffalo Exchange and Crossroads Trading Co. are resale — because you literally sell your items to the shop. If they like your stuff, they’ll give you a check right then. With consignment, you don’t get paid until the shop sells the item. Why choose consignment over resale? Because you’ll probably get more money and if you’ve got designer items consignment stores can specialize in selling particular brands.

Consignment Selling 101

The Pros: You’ll make money, with little effort.

The Cons: If you’re not good with ‘confrontation’ it can be a bit hard to hear someone tell you that basically, no one wants to buy your stuff.

Our favorite virtual consignment store: TheRealReal – just email them the items you want to sell and if approved they’ll send you a prepaid Fedex label to ship them your items. Once your item sells you’ll get paid the next month. You can track the status of your items with their account login system.

Our favorite in-person consignment stores:

Southern CA: On Que Style

Northern CA: Cris

New York: Second Time Around

Dallas: Revente Resale

Tips for consigning:

  • Ask what brands the store carries.
  • Ask what seasons the store is currently accepting (if it’s freezing outside, it’s hard to sell a cotton sun dress).
  • Ask how soon you’ll get paid.
  • Ask if they’ll notify you when an item sells or if you have to check in.
  • Ask how long they’ll keep your stuff before giving it to charity or back to you.
  • Ask what brands sell the quickest.
  • Ask if they accept accessories.