10 Easy Steps for DIY Bookkeeping

Banish Those Bookkeeping Blues

Are you one of those people who are guilty of just stuffing your receipts into a folder and thinking 'I'll sort that out when I've got time'? Do you need a more organised bookkeeping system, nothing too flashy, just something that's simple and easy to manage?

Follow my tips below and you'll soon have that simple and easy-to-manage bookkeeping system that won't bring you out in a cold sweat whenever you hear the words 'tax return'. And I promise you, it works!

Gather your supplies!

Get hold of a large ring binder, divider cards, A4/letter-sized paper, stapler, pen, all your business receipts and invoices, plastic folders and a large coffee (or whatever else you prefer!).

Then lock yourself away for a couple of hours.

Get organised

You now need to organise your ring binder into the following sections:

  • Invoices - Unpaid -- this section is for your outgoing business expenses that have not yet been paid i.e. supplier invoices. Write on the top of each invoice the date it needs to be paid by and place all unpaid invoices in 'date to be paid' order with the earliest one on top.

  • Invoices - Paid -- this section is for your outgoing business expenses that have been paid or you've paid at the time service was rendered, i.e. that ream of paper that you bought from the office supplies store. Staple each receipt on to a blank piece of paper rather than just putting them directly into the ring binder. This just makes it easier to see at a glance all your receipts and you can also make notes on the paper. Also write on the top of each invoice/piece of paper the method of payment.

  • Receipts - Unpaid -- this section is for all your invoices that you have sent to clients that have not yet been paid. Write on the top date payment is due and put them in date order so that it's easier if you have to chase overdue invoices.

  • Receipts - Paid -- this section is for all your invoices that have been paid. Write on the top the date it was paid and how it was paid i.e. bank transfer, cheque, credit card etc.

  • Bank Statements -- this section is self-explanatory! Just keep everything in date order.

Schedule It In

Now that you've got your system in place, schedule in each week/month to keep your bookkeeping binder up-to-date. In between updating place all your receipts and invoices in a plastic folder so that everything is together when you come to update your system--it would be too time-consuming to add each receipt as you get it!

What Next?

Depending on how far you want to handle your own accounts, you can either hand your very organised bookkeeping binder over to your accountant at the end of the financial year for them to prepare your final accounts, or you can maintain your own books with the use of financial accounting software.

Either way, you've now got a bookkeeping system that is simple and easy-to-manage and won't cause you to break out into a cold sweat at the very mention of the words 'tax return'.

By Tracey Lawton
Image by

Online Business Development Strategist, Tracey Lawton, teaches solo service professionals how to create a thriving and profitable business through the implementation of simple office organization and online marketing systems, which leads to more clients, more profits, and more freedom. Get your fr.ee "Office Organization Success Toolkit" plus how-to articles, resources, tips, and tools at http://www.officeorganizationsuccess.com.


8 Steps to Branding Your Design Firm

Discover Who You Are as a Designer and Sell Your Brand's Message

Eight Steps in Branding

Developing a brand strategy can be challenging, but is a vital step in creating a strong business strategy and lays the foundation for your business plan. Spending time investigating and researching, defining, and building your brand is critical for your future success and defines your business, marketing and internal communication plan.

To help you develop your branding strategy, we have created a simplified seven part process to guide you through each step. While some of it is easy to do on your own, you may need a professional for other parts of this process, especially to facilitate agreements for several stakeholders, review outcomes, or assist you in the development of logos, web and collateral, customer research and analysis.

There are two fundamental pieces to the branding process:

1. Your brand positioning and unique value proposition

2. Your name and visual identity

Critical to an effective branding strategy is a clear definition and agreement by all key team members about your objectives, target audience and values. Therefore, prior to proceeding with the branding process, it is critical to align team members, both management and employees, to ensure key issues and concerns are addressed and that future positioning considers all stakeholders' values and goals.

Part I - Stakeholder Positioning, Clarifications, Industry Research

This part of creating a brand strategy clarifies expectations, vision and core beliefs of the stakeholders. To succeed you must discuss issues candidly (the sooner the better) and invest sufficient time in addressing how personal goals will fit into your future brand. Part of this process is an evaluation of industry and competition, preliminary organizational chart and financial analysis.

     1. Record each stakeholder's current orientation and agree on a desired state

     2. Devise a strategy to move each stakeholder towards alignment

     3. Develop high level organizational chart and commitment level

     4. Prepare initial industry research to discuss brand positioning ideas and values

     5. Prepare financial analysis

     6. Create project plan

Part II - Create Value Propositions

In part II of the branding process, you will define your core messages, identify customer segments and define benefits of your brand for your target audience.

     1. Develop your Unique Value Proposition (UVP), core messages and supporting messages

     2. Develop your brand positioning statement

     3. Create your supporting messages for different customer groups and services

     4. Differentiation: You may match a competitor on every dimension of value except one

     5. Excellence (in at least one element of value): You become the best choice for your customers

Part III - Develop your Mission and Vision

This step in the branding process defines your Vision & Mission so as to clearly and concisely convey the direction of the organization and the key measure or measures of the organization's success. Its prime audience is the leadership team and/or stockholders (investors).

Part IV - Develop your Name

Once you have an understanding of what your brand is representing, its customers and your primary market benefits, you can proceed with the naming process for your brand. Part IV of the branding process therefore deals with the naming of your brand.

     1. Define attributes and value propositions that will drive the brand

     2. Develop naming ideas, brainstorm and record your ideas (consider: Service/Trademarks, online search results to compete against, naming considerations)

     3. Use the competitive research you did earlier and the brand definition work you have already done

     4. Create a way to evaluate and tally the results of your naming research so you can make a decision (consider sound, associations, competiiors names)

     5. Agree on a name and register name

Part V - Prepare your Visual Identity

Once you have settled on a name, it's time to create the visuals for your brand. This includes your logo, your style guide and all assets related to your visual identity.

     1. Review competitive findings on colors, logo types and branding to differentiate yourself

     2. Review logo trends and agree on direction

     3. Develop your logo for different media types, sizes, applications

     4. Develop a style guide to ensure clear communication guidelines for use of your logo and graphics

Part VI - Create a Launch Plan

Now you are ready to put things into action. Start implementing all the ideas, train and educate employees and finalize your plan with the financials and activities to reach your goals

     1. Finalize business plan, marketing plan

     2. Develop your collateral, website and visibility

     3. Evaluate, differentiate and define brand touch points

     4. Launch internally - then externally

     5. Develop standards & guidelines

     6. Nurture brand champions

Part VII - Implement & Launch

Now you are ready for prime time! Measurements and strategies for review and adjustment should be in place. Quarterly review of your goals and ensuring your brand plan and business plan continue to align with your sales and marketing activities to benchmark success.

     1. Benchmarking

     2. Adjustments

     3. Quarterly and Annual Planning

     4. Strategic Reviews

Inka Traktman is president and owner of Greenfire Strategies, a strategic brand consultancy and product marketing company specializing in brand positioning, product positioning and digital marketing.

By Inka Traktman


Marketing Basics: Building Blocks for Your Marketing Campaign

Marketing Basics: A, E, I O, U and Always Y

A is for Action: You must take action. Your output must be equal to your input. In other words, if you love attending seminars and workshops but taking action is not your thing, get yourself in a coaching club, hire a coach, find a mastermind group or accountability group or somehow find the support you need that will help you to take action. We learn mostly from doing. And we certainly make progress by doing. It's time to get up and take action and start seeing some results!

E is for Education: Being educated in your field is very important. Being educated in marketing is equally as important. You can find great marketing education through free resources like business and marketing books from your library, subscribing to great ezines, or attending free teleseminars or webinars. Low cost options include attending workshops, teleseminars or summits. You can also be educated through private or group coaching programs. The point is to always be learning because once you stop learning, you stop growing.

I is for Information: Having access to the best information you can find on marketing a solo business will allow you to make informed strategic decisions from a place of knowledge, not fear. It will allow you to be focused on the big picture and be less swayed to chase the latest and greatest tactic with a half-hearted effort.

O is for Outline: Having an outline (a plan) of where you are going in your business is critical. As Dr. Phil says, "You've got to name it to claim it." Having an outline will help guide you in your decision making and keep you focused as opportunities present themselves. If you do not have an outline, you are much more likely to take on activities, projects and clients that do not move you closer to your desires.

U is for Unique: To stand out in a crowd, you simply have to be unique. You need to "be the blue tree," as my friend and colleague Barbara Wayman of Blue Tree Media says. Being different than others in your field will draw the kind of attention you want so you can attract your ideal clients, customers, joint venture partners and affiliates.

Y is for You: As a solopreneur, you are your brand. Everything from the way you wear your hair to your elevator speech, your logo and how you communicate with your clients defines your brand. Years ago I recall hearing supermodel Cindy Crawford say, "I'm not a supermodel. I'm the CEO of the Cindy Crawford brand." That was an ah-ha moment for me. You, too, are CEO of brand you. Embrace all that is you and share it with the world!

Applying these basics to your business will help you build a strong foundation from which you can grow both professionally and personally.

By Meredith Liepelt
© 2011 Meredith Liepelt, Rich Life Marketing
Image by Spirokwok

© 2011 Meredith Liepelt, Rich Life Marketing Meredith Liepelt, President of Rich Life Marketing, offers a free report called "101 Ways to Attract Ideal Clients, Build Your List and Raise Your Profile," which can be downloaded immediately at RichLifeMarketing.com.

How to Get More Clients with Contact Management System

5 Simple Steps to Keep a Steady Flow of Clients and Prospects Coming Into YOUR Business

You cannot begin to market your business if you can't find the information you need, don't know who you are marketing to, and don't know where you are in your business.

So, let's go back to basics and take a look at one of the key office organization systems you need to have in place to "manage" your business before you can start to "market" your business - your contact management system!

If set up correctly your contact management system allows you to:

* Keep a note of clients, potential clients, and colleagues contact information.

* Easily and effectively follow-up with a prospect.

* Locate critical client contact information quickly and easily.

* Build your business.

Having all of your contact data readily to hand will allow you to build your business. You have all the information you need; it's all in one place, and you can locate it quickly and easily. Follow-up becomes a much smoother process and in turn it builds your business.

Let me share with you below my 5 easy steps for creating your ideal contact management system so that you constantly have a full pipeline of interested clients and prospects:

1. Choose your system. You need to decide on a system that works best for YOU and YOUR business. This could be using Outlook (as I do) to manage all your contact data, appointments, To Do lists, etc. or you could use dedicated contact management software. A third option might be to utilize one of the many web-based contact management systems.

2. Draw clients into your pipeline. Once you've got your contact management system in place, you need to have a system for keeping in touch with people you meet at in-person events, online networking forums, or visitors to your website. One way to do that is to publish a regular ezine (electronic newsletter). This will keep clients and prospects flowing into your business and provide you with a base of interested people who want to find out more about you, your services, and your products.

3. Define the process for working with new clients. Once you've got prospects into your pipeline the next step is to create a system so that those clients who are ready to work with you are able to do so. This could be through an initial complimentary consultation to determine if you are a good fit for one another. List everything you currently do and come up with a system for streamlining the whole process.

4. Keep it all up-to-date. It's all well and good having the systems in place, but if you're not keeping it all current, then your contact management system quickly becomes of no use to you at all. Ideally, you should be updating your client data as you go along, but if you find you're not doing that, spend 15/20 minutes at the end of each day, before you shut down your PC, reviewing who you've talked to/emailed, what the outcome was, and when you promised to follow-up with them. Note it all down in your contact management system.

5. Create a waiting list! If you find that you have more clients wanting to work with you than you can handle, offer to put them on your waiting list. If you suddenly get a client who has to cancel (and it does happen, for a variety of reasons), then you're not left with a big hole in your cashflow - you simply approach your waiting list and let them know you have an opening available. Plan to keep in touch with your waiting list on a regular basis so that they don't forget you!

Consistency is the key to keeping a steady flow of clients and prospects coming into your business. Make the commitment to spend time each and every day on your contact management system, and watch your business grow!

By Tracey Lawton
(c) 2008 Tracey Lawton

Online Business Development Strategist, Tracey Lawton, teaches solo service professionals how to create a thriving and profitable business through the implementation of simple office organization and online marketing systems, which leads to more clients, more profits, and more freedom. Get your fr.ee "Office Organization Success Toolkit" plus how-to articles, resources, tips, and tools at http://www.officeorganizationsuccess.com.

If You Don’t Know Who You’re Marketing To

Are you able to close your eyes at this very moment and see the face of the people you’re trying to market to?

Do you know the kinds of things these people like? Do you know what images appeal to them, what products they have the most need for, and what styles of marketing will best grab their interest? How clear is the image you’re seeing? Do you know exactly who these people are or the image fuzzy, barely in focus, or not in focus at all?

So many companies are designing marketing material, paying for their color printing, coordinating the distribution of their advertisements, and they don’t even have a clear idea of who they’re trying to grab.

The reason is because they’re attempting to target every person possible. The market is the entire country.

The only time a system like that will work is when you have so much money for color printing you’re able to completely saturate the market with your advertising. And then it isn’t really the focus of your advertising that’s getting people interested but the sheer volume of what you’re sending out. If you fill up the market enough you’ll get people looking at you.

But is this the best approach? Is the money being well spent?

If you know the audience you can tailor the message to fit them. You can use language and images that appeal directly to them. The way you arrange your message to appeal to a middle aged suburbanite is not going to be the same way you tailor your message to fit a college student.

Each group has certain likes and dislikes, things that appeal to them in a way that doesn’t appeal to the other groups, and if you don’t know that you won’t be able to do the best job possible at gaining their attention.

Having a niche helps you to hone in on your market, but you don’t have to always have a small niche to do this. After all, if you wanted to target college students in general, you can create your message to best work for them, while still targeting all college students. That isn’t a small market, but it is a specific market.

The first step of any marketing campaign should be figuring out exactly who the target is and how you can best appeal to them. Do the needed research or else you’ll find your response rate lacking in relation to the costs of the marketing.

Remember :  the broader your audience the harder it will be to get your message right. A niche might be better for you if you find yourself unable to afford the kind of marketing you’d prefer for a large market.

The next time you close your eyes before a marketing push you should be able to completely visualize who you’re marketing to.

By Kaye Marks
Image by Martin Garnham
Kaye Z. Marks is an avid writer and follower of the developments in the business card templates and business card printing industry. Order business cards online with PrintPlace.com.


How to Find Time to Market Your Design Firm

How to Find Time to Market Your Small Business


Marketing is essential for small business success

You probably didn't get into business so that you could spend time marketing. Most small business owners have a passion for the activities of their business. However working with clients is not the only demand on your time. As well as doing what you love there are other tasks that may be less pleasant and/or rewarding: Admin, staff management, recruitment, payroll and, of course, marketing.

Marketing can become a chore - even if you accept the reality that you need to get the word out about your business, marketing itself can be seen as a burden. Let's face it, when you are presented with tasks you would rather not do, they tend to become relegated in the pecking order. If you have ever found yourself reorganizing your business cards again when more important activities beckon, you will be familiar with this scenario.

Unfortunately, marketing can become one of the relegated activities.

Time is a valuable, finite commodity
However essential, marketing competes with your other business activities and there are only a certain number of hours to devote to your business life. The rest of your life is important too! As far as marketing goes there are two common marketing issues that develop with small businesses:

1. Marketing avoidance - sporadic, infrequent marketing or none at all. There are always other things to do that are more comfortable so maybe I will get to marketing tomorrow.

2. Silo marketing - the opposite issue. You dive headlong into a series of unconnected activities. A lot of energy, money and time spent on tools and tactics that may be OK in principal, but are ineffective because they are aimed at the wrong audience or are not in place long enough to yield results.

Both of these approaches may yield some clients, but tend to be frustrating and inconsistent and continue to drive the belief that marketing is a chore
Allocate time and energy effectively
If you are uncomfortable with marketing today, you probably will be tomorrow. However you can commit to becoming better TODAY, and making marketing more effective, less of a time drain and even fun. Consider the following tips:

  • Marketing mindset - marketing is a process rather than an activity. If you believe it is difficult, or that you are bad at it, that will not serve you as you approach marketing tactics. Commit to developing a marketing strategy that you enjoy. Don't worry if you can't visualize that right away. Commitment to developing such a strategy is the key point

  • Skill development - marketing is a skill which means you can learn it. Commit to developing in this area. For example schedule time to read books, take a course, find a marketing mentor etc.

  • Define your ideal client profile - who do you love to work with? Be as specific as you can. What is their business profile? Take the time to figure out the problems you solve for them. This is foundational and will underpin your marketing message - without a clear understanding of this it is tough to focus on the best tactics

  • Research and choose tactics - find tactics that are likely to put you in front of your ideal clients. Challenge yourself - choose one or two that are outside your comfort zone and commit to developing the required skills as part of your personal development plan. Choose a few that you will be able to find the time for consistently over time. Most marketing requires some time and consistent application to generate results. Decide to devote that time up front

  • Schedule time and write it into your schedule - this time is as important as client meetings. Include it in the schedule and DON'T think of it as time you can reallocate to something else. Early on include time spent developing your marketing skills as well as carrying out marketing activities.

  • Stay on Task - it is easy to become distracted by a special offer or by something you would rather be doing. Part of your commitment to developing a successful marketing approach is consistency and application.

Your passion for your business is your key marketing asset, along with your attitude towards getting that word out there. Passion is attractive and weaving that into your marketing message will make delivery of that message much easier. Defining that message and picking tools that you commit to and integrate into you week is the key to ensuring there is always enough time!


Jerry Smith is the co-founder of Marketing Action Club, focusing on small service based businesses and independent professionals who struggle to attract quality clients consistently.Visit http://www.30SecondElevatorSpeech.com for a step by step, online program to lead you through producing an effective, attention grabbing introduction for you and your business.


How to Create a New Client VIP Welcome Kit

How to Create a New Client Welcome Kit

Marketing is simply the act of telling people over and over what it is that you do. Your new client is one of your VIPs and as such, you need to continue serving them. Showcasing videos works for my chiropractor. There is one simple act that is often overlooked, but helps you to retain more clients and starts you off on great footing with your new client. It's creating a new client welcome kit.

A new client welcome kit re-introduces your business to your new client, makes them once again feel that they made the right decision by working with you and informs them of all of your services. A package of information like this is often overlooked, but helps you create the experience you want for each of your clients. It goes a long way toward establishing credibility and your brand.

Elements of Your New Client Welcome Kit

There is no "one-size fits all" for your welcome kit, as every business has different objectives and budgets. However, there are some common features to new client welcome kits, so use this checklist as a jumping off point.

•A letter of introduction, written on your company letterhead

•A welcome CD, DVD or a link to a welcome video

•Several business cards - One for your client, a few for their staff and/or to pass out to others

•A brochure, flyer or leave-behind piece

•Basic business forms including your contract, confidentiality agreement, non-disclosure

•1-3 of your most popular articles

•Copies of articles that have been written about your business

•Testimonials, case studies

•Press releases

•Promotional items with your logo such as pens, sticky notes, calendars, magnets

•A client questionnaire or "quick start" form if you'd like to gain additional information about your client prior to starting.

Introduction Letter Tips

Start by expressing appreciation for their business. Congratulate them on taking steps toward what they need and want. Provide a brief overview of your business and services and an outline of what is included in their welcome kit. This helps solidify to them that they made the right choice by hiring you. If they had any buyer's remorse after signing up with you, this will help calm that emotion.

From there, consider highlighting anything in the kit you'd like them to pay special attention to. For example, you may want them to understand your office hours, holiday closures, how to handle appointment rescheduling, common turn-around times, who to contact on your team for certain things, best times to reach you, VIP/client-only ways to contact you and so forth.

If you have a referral program, consider including information about it, as clients will likely want to refer others to you. And if there is an incentive for them to do so, all the better.

Other Items of Interest

Take note of what clients ask you during their first few interactions with you. If you notice a trend in certain questions or certain issues that keep creeping up, take note and proactively address them in your welcome kit.

One of the purposes of your new client welcome kit is to reassure your client that they made a great decision by working with you. Taking time to pay attention to these client experience details helps to build your brand and your reputation, and it gives people even more of a reason to talk about you to their contacts. In other words, even though you have just converted a potential client into a client, it still helps to increase your visibility and credibility. Taking the time to create a new client welcome kit is well worth your time and energy.


By Meredith Liepelt
Image by Fallenangel

© 2011 Meredith Liepelt, Rich Life Marketing Meredith Liepelt, President of Rich Life Marketing, offers a free report called "101 Ways to Attract Ideal Clients, Build Your List and Raise Your Profile," which can be downloaded immediately at RichLifeMarketing.com.

4 Steps to the Perfect Elevator Speech

Elevator Speech Template Examples - Basic 30 Second Introduction Scripts

An elevator speech remains one of the most important networking and marketing tools you have at your very disposal. Of course every business is different and it is all very well talking to people at networking events and so on, but how do you make sure you grab their attention? Is there a template that can be followed that allows you to come up with a 30 second introduction for YOUR business?

Actually there is a format that has proven success and can be applied to pretty much any business that aspires to have clients! Hopefully that is every business that wants to stay solvent!

There are some pre-requisites to achieving success with this approach and the main one is developing a clear idea of your ideal client and the issues with which they are struggling. Closely related is how you help them - what does your company do that solves the chosen challenges of your ideal client base.

Armed with that information, the more detail you have the better, here is the template to follow for any business:

Part 1: Who You are

Hi, My name is... from (company name)

That is all you need. Obviously if you are in a conversation already and someone asks you what you do you don't need to reintroduce yourself! You can also vary this along the lines of: "I'm Jerry and my company is..."

Most importantly, resist the temptation to expand this into a long explanation of where your office is located, when the business was founded, how many employees you have and so on. Shorter is better

Part 2: Who you help

We help (this target audience)...

Again, as short and targeted as possible. Avoid the temptation here to think everyone is your IDEAL client. Messages such as: "We work with anyone who owns a car" is too broad. There is leeway here to change the words as well of course. Pick a variation with which you are comfortable - we work with, we help, I am focused on etc.

Part 3: What problem do you address

Who have (this problem, issue or challenge)

You don't need to elaborate for minutes on end. Define the main problem you solve - not the solution at this stage.

Part 4: What they get

So they get (this particular solution)
The best way to couch these parts is using language that speaks to the emotions of your ideal client - frustration, anger, annoyance, fear, worry and so on.

For example:

Hi, I'm Jerry from Acme Insurance. We help home owners in Leawood who are worried they don't have adequate coverage or even that they are over-covered. With us they get over the frustration of not knowing and get the peace of mind they want by knowing they are insured appropriately.

By Jerry N Smith
Photography by James Wimmel

Jerry Smith is the co-founder of Marketing Action Club, focusing on small service based businesses and independent professionals who want to grow but struggle to attract quality clients consistently. Visit http://www.30SecondElevatorSpeech.com for a step by step, online program to lead you through producing an effective, attention grabbing introduction for you and your business


7 Tips to Have Clients Raving About Your Design Firm

Your Clients Aren't Raving About Your Great Services?
Better Up Your Game and Deliver Better Results

If you don't have clients delighted and exclaiming about the results they get from working with you, you need to reconsider how you are delivering your services. All the perfect marketing in the world can attract new clients, but if you aren't producing ecstatically satisfied clients during your working sessions, you will not retain clients or easily attract new ones. If you're ready to "up your game" to produce client raving positively about you and your services, here are a few ideas you can use.

1) Clients buy results.

They may believe they are buying other things like working with someone they enjoy or feel affinity for. Those things are definitely true in the short-term, but when clients get to the point where they are considering the cost of continuing to work with you, only one thing will matter - results. Have they gotten promised results? Have they gotten what you promised plus a lot more? Are they experiencing an improved situation? Can they quantify the benefit? Are results obvious? In order to deliver results to your clients, you need to ask yourself what changes you need to make to deliver more profound results to your clients.

2) Figure out every way you can think of to increase the results that your clients get.

Are these ways that you could make slight adjustments to your delivery and get much greater results for your clients? Perhaps you could all "homework" for them to work on between sessions and provide them accountability. They will get much greater results if they know that you will ask them about what they got done on the homework. You might create bonuses such as assessments, tips, special reports, exercises to correct common issues, or in-between email support.

3) Create services or combinations that you've proven to give greater results to your clients.
You could create "packages" of services that deliver greater value and successes to your clients. The better you know your target market, the more you observe and can create solutions for typical issues they will face - that they didn't yet even know they will likely need. In other words, have a way to help them solve problems they don't yet know they will have - be prepared and ahead of the need.

4) Think about any products you can create to combine with your services.
These products should be problem solvers that help your clients deal with the common issues of your target market. Make sure they are optional offerings so that your clients don't feel coerced to buy. You can also offer product/service combinations. What's key is providing solutions and results that are even greater than the client expected to get.

5) Ask your client what you could provide that would make their results spectacular.

Listen to their ideas. Explore how you can deliver what they request. You may be surprised to find that small and easy changes (such as more information at the right time) could provide huge changes in client perception of results. This is about providing what the client believe they need - in the way that gives them the greatest results and perceived results.

6) Do some competitor research.

Don't do this with the intention of stealing ideas, but look for small things you hadn't thought of that, combined with your current offerings, could exponentially contribute to the value you deliver. By researching your competition, you may also get ideas by seeing what a competitor fails to deliver, but you could also easily add to your business offerings. This isn't about getting fancy or complicated (unless that's your market). It's about sparking new ideas for incremental improvements that deliver big increases in results.

7) Up your results by upping your target market.

Working with more capable, motivated, and gifted clients - and delivering results to them beyond their expectations will produce VERY satisfied clients. These are the situations that can attract many more clients to you. Look at ways to upgrade your target market and provide them the kinds of upgraded results they would necessarily be expecting.

If it's not typical for you to have clients raving positively about your work and the results you delivered to them, it's time for you to consider upping your game. Stay focused on delivering results to your clients and always have that as a priority.

By Suzi Elton
Photography by Andrey Kiselev

Suzi Elton provides business writing that attracts targeted prospects to your service business and converts them into clients for you. She is a Robert Middleton Certified Action Plan Marketing Coach, as well as a professional writer. Her website offers a free series of 8 assessments you can use to analyze your own site. To learn about her Robert Middleton style Web Site Tool Kit Writing Package, go to http://www.wowfactorwriting.com/services/web-site-tool-kit-package/


Client Retention Strategy: Client Surveys

Client Surveys That Work Wonders

Knowing what your ideal clients expect from you is one of the best ways to ensure you keep existing clients and add happy new ones. You want to deliver the programs and services that your clients want and need from you. So it seems obvious then, that you would elicit feedback from them to keep your finger on the pulse of what's important. However, often you may find yourself stuck, not knowing how to write or conduct a written survey. Here are some things to remember when you conduct your next survey.

Get Clear

Decide what you want to know and why you want to know it. This will help you design clear questions that will help you make solid business decisions from the results you receive.

Survey Length

You want your survey to be complete, but not a chore for people to complete. If you can keep your survey to around ten simple questions, that is ideal. By keeping your survey short, you are forced to make sure that you are only asking the questions that are most relevant and will provide you with the information that will be most useful to you.

Type of Questions

Multiple-choice questions are great to use because they take less time to complete for the respondent. It also can help the person understand more about what you are asking. If you use a rating scale, for example 1-10 with 10 being the highest level of agreement, use the same scale throughout your survey. If you mix it up with different scales and numbers, people will get confused and not complete the survey. Avoid leading questions or statements. For example, "How much do love the introduction music in the audio program you purchased," leads the respondent in one way and makes an assumption on behalf of the respondent. Change that to, "Did the music in the audio program add to your enjoyment of the program?"


Design your survey in a logical progression if possible. For example, if you have general questions start with those and then lead into more specific questions. Or, if you have questions about using your web site, start with questions about your home page, your opt-in process and so forth.

Offer a Thank You Gift

Even if your survey only takes 3-5 minutes for a person to take, you'll get a lot more people to respond if you offer a valuable gift to each person who completes the survey. Offer a bonus audio, report or 15 minute consultation to each person, and make sure they know about the special gift when you ask them to respond. Make it enticing enough so they'll want to fill out your survey right away!

There are many ways to collect information from your clients and potential clients, but remember these tips when you do your next written survey. Remember, make it as simple as possible for people to complete and then take action on what you uncover.

By Meredith Liepelt
Copyright (c) 2009 Meredith Liepelt
Image by Jakub Jirs

© 2011 Meredith Liepelt, Rich Life Marketing Meredith Liepelt, President of Rich Life Marketing, offers a free report called "101 Ways to Attract Ideal Clients, Build Your List and Raise Your Profile," which can be downloaded immediately at RichLifeMarketing.com.