Why many customer testimonials are worthless

Posted by Brenda Do, www.BLCopywriting.com

November 23rd, 2014, 05:27:43 PM
Posted in Advertising, E-Commerce, Marketing | No Comments »

Why many customer testimonials are worthless

A lot of us think if a customer says something nice about you, you should use their testimonial in your marketing, right?

Not quite.

I’ve seen lots of “nice” testimonials actually lower a company’s credibility. Or at the very least, increase a prospect’s skepticism. That’s because…

Testimonials are like Twinkies

Ok, stick with me here and it’ll soon make sense.

As a food source, Twinkies are what I call hole pluggers. You’ve got a hungry part of your tummy, the Twinkie helps you feel better by filling that hole for a bit, but it doesn’t provide the nutrition needed for you to thrive. So Twinkies don’t add any value to your health.

Likewise, sweet/nice testimonials do the same thing for your business. They fill an empty spot on your website or brochure, but they don’t add any value to your overall sales.

To understand this better, how many times have you read wimpy testimonials like these?

I found XYZ very helpful and informative. I highly recommend XYZ to anyone.
XYZ is so nice to work with. They always answer my questions quickly. They’re great!
XYZ is very professional and delivered on time. They exceeded my expectations.

Ok, be honest here…do any of those testimonials make you want to stop what you’re doing and give them a call?

That’s because those testimonials are so generic and fluffy, they don’t tell your prospect anything helpful.

Just like you, your prospects are wisely skeptical. Before they commit time to talking with you, they want to feel there’s a high chance you’ll be able to help them. Assuming your website and sales material are all written well, your testimonials’ job is to push your hesitant prospects over the edge, so they get off that fence and contact you.

In order to do that, your testimonials must do two things:

1. Enhance your credibility

2. Positively address their objections/concerns

Fluff won’t do that for you.

How to know which testimonials help or hurt your sale

A quality testimonial addresses common objections or concerns your prospects have rolling around in their heads. When people see them, it puts them at ease and encourages them to call.

To illustrate, let’s say you’re a back surgeon. You know your prospects are in desperate pain, but they’re still hesitant to go to you for several reasons. This includes: cost of the surgery, success rate, how long they’ll be off work, etc.

Ideally, you want to get quality testimonials where each addresses one of those concerns.

For instance, let’s say many prospects worry they can’t afford the surgery. When they go through your website, they see this testimonial:

“I love Dr. Jones. She’s really good and her staff made me feel comfortable answering my questions and helping me feel relaxed.”

Nice…but that’s probably not going to encourage a cost-conscious prospect to call you. But what if that same prospect saw this on your site?…

“Thanks so much for working out a payment plan that fit my tight budget. I’m feeling so good, I’m working full-time again. And it’s such a relief not to be weighed down by medical bills. Thank you so much for helping me make this difficult time easier than I imagined.”

If you’re worried about affording the surgery, which testimonial will convince you to call Dr. Jones?

Yep, the second one. Because it addressed your objection/concern/worry.

The easiest way to get the right testimonials

Here’s how you figure out what kind of testimonials you want your customers to write:

1. List the objections/concerns
List all of the objections, fears, or concerns prospects have about buying from you, or calling you to find out more. List everything you can think of. Narrow it down to 3-5 of the biggest and most common concerns. These are the ones to focus on in step 2.

2. Send a testimonial template
To get more testimonials, and make sure they’re talking about what you need, send them an email template. Ask topic-specific, open-ended questions about their experience with you. It’s a lot easier and faster for your busy customers to answer questions than come up with a paragraph on their own.

NOTE: Be sure the email includes a brief waiver allowing you to use their answers in your marketing material.

Bonus tip: time the concern

For added impact, here’s another tip from the brain trust at MarketingExperiments.com: place testimonials in relevant parts of your marketing material. For instance, if you sell online and want to lower the number of people who abandon their carts, then place a testimonial about the easy checkout right where people start the checkout process.

Want to see the testimonial request template I use personally? Just ask and I’ll forward it to you right away: brenda@blcopywriting.com.

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Brenda Do is a freelance, direct-response copywriter in Reno, NV and President of BL Copywriting, LLC. Contact her at: www.BLCopywriting.com or brenda@blcopywriting.com

 

 

 

 

NxLeveL Hispanic Graduation, Las Vegas

Posted by Ben Tedore

January 29th, 2014, 02:35:59 PM
Posted in Education | No Comments »

NxLeveL for Entrepreneurs (also known as the “Existing Business Course”) is a 13-week, 40-hour course that gives entrepreneurs the professional knowledge and management skills they need to grow an existing business. Participants will learn to identify feasible opportunities for profitable and sustainable growth, and bring them to fruition by preparing a comprehensive business plan based on proven market research, financial management and project management.

Topics taught include:

  • Introduction, Overview and Entrepreneurship
  • Planning and Research: Entrepreneurial Essentials
  • Planning and Research: Entrepreneurial Essentials: Business Research
  • Organizational Matters: Management and Legal Structure
  • Marketing: Analysis and Understanding
  • Marketing: Strategies, Tactics and Implementation
  • Financial Overview: Books, Records & Controls
  • Managing Your Money: Financial Planning and Budgets
  • Managing Your Money: Developing and Using Cash Flow Projections
  • Managing Your Money: Understanding and Using Your Financial Statements
  • Financing Your Business: Sources of Money
  • Green Business Opportunities: Environmental Solutions
  • Your Business Future: Negotiating, Managing Growth and Plan Completion

Learn more about NxLeveL Nevada HERE

Advisory Board Formation

Posted by Ben Tedore

January 14th, 2014, 01:34:28 PM
Posted in Uncategorized | No Comments »

Starting a new company is hard, and finding people to help guide you is even harder. When people look to start a new business they commonly seek advice from friends or family or look to create a board of directors for their new venture. From a professional standpoint, this is probably not the way to go. Many entrepreneurs think that they will be playing in the big leagues if they have a board of directors, but the reality is that a board can be costly, will be hard to fill with knowledgeable people, and will not provide the time and energy needed to mentor and advise a fledgling company as they start. What any startup really needs is a board of advisors.

There are many similarities between advisory boards and a board of directors, such as providing strategic vision to the company and adding credibility and contacts to the business. However, an advisory board is much better for a startup because advisors have no fiduciary and are not liable for company failings, are generally unpaid, and will advise you more than a board of directors that meets quarterly. It can be difficult to find a good board of advisors for your specific company, but we have included some tips in this article to help.

The first thing to do when looking for a board of advisors for your company is to chart out where the weaknesses are in your management team and where you lack credibility and connections. For instance if you have a great new medical device and want to sell it to every hospital in the nation, but your team is has no business experience, it would make sense to look for an advisor who has business experience bringing medical devices to market. Getting an advisor with these skills will make you look more credible in the eyes of hospital purchasing departments, help you gain connections, and will help you learn from the advisors work. To actually find advisors, you have to first leverage your network to find people you or your connections know. Second, you have to be prepared to part with some equity (.5-2% vested over two years is standard). You should look for 3-5 advisors to fill your board, less and they will not want to be contrarians to their colleagues, more and they become less productive.

Once you have gathered up your board of advisors, you need to be able to keep them productive and helpful. This means that you have to share your vision of the company and listen, really listen, to their advice. If they are good advisors they have been there before and have wisdom to impart to you. Keep meetings centered on how you are going to steer the company to success in the future. If you need any help finding advisors please contact the Nevada SBDC or Score.

How to write online video scripts for business: The foolproof framework

Posted by Brenda Do, www.BLCopywriting.com

January 6th, 2014, 09:44:39 PM
Posted in Advertising, E-Commerce | No Comments »

When creating online videos for your business, keep in mind people usually click off around one and a half minutes into the video. Sooner if they’re bored.

This doesn’t leave you much time to explain what you do and why you’re great without talking like an auctioneer hyped up on Red Bull.

However, if you follow this foolproof video script framework, you can sound sane, get your message across clearly, and keep their interest longer.

But before you turn on the camera, please remember…

The video about you, isn’t really about you

When you make a video about your company or your product, the script copy isn’t all about what you want to tell the viewer. It’s about what the viewer wants to hear.

To understand this better, let’s say you have a company called Prestopages. You want to make a video explaining what Prestopages does. That said…

What you want the video to show: Prestopages lets small business owners create their own landing pages. Saving them time and money over hiring web designers for each campaign.

What the viewer really wants to know: If I have no tech knowledge, how can I easily create professional-looking landing pages that work for my business?

So your script might say: With Prestopages, you can create professional-looking landing pages in just minutes by using our highly-tested templates. We’re a team of online marketing specialists who spent over 5,200 hours testing hundreds of landing page design elements. Choose from 15 high-converting templates that get attention and the click. Templates adjust easily for any business, for any conversion goal from acquiring subscribers, downloading demos, to making purchases.

By addressing what the viewer wants to know, your script includes critical bits of information that calm their main concerns, establish your credibility, and increase the chances they’ll take your call to action.

This leads to the second important point…

How to know what the viewer wants to hear

Most of us think we know our customers well, but when you question them directly, they may surprise you. To gather relevant information for your script, ask your audience:

  1. Why did they pick you instead of the other guy?
  2. Why did they pick the other guy instead of you?
  3. What’s the biggest issue they’re facing now and hoping you can solve?
  4. What assumptions are they making about your product/service?

You can get this information by talking to your customers directly or sending out a survey. Or you can interrogate your sales and customer service team. Or dig through testimonials.

By reading testimonials and asking people directly, you’ll also hear answers in the customers’ words. That’s valuable because when you use their words in your script, the viewer relates to you better.

Armed with all this insight, you’re ready to start writing…

The foolproof framework for engaging video scripts

  • Give a quick introduction explaining what your company does. Often, it’s as simple as stating your unique selling proposition. In LinkedIn’s video, they simply say, “It’s the world’s largest professional network helping people find and share opportunities every day.”
  • State their big, hairy problem. Say it in a way that your prospects experience it. For instance, if you sell a supplement that helps ease digestive problems, you wouldn’t say, “Super Digestzin* helps relieve symptoms from dyspepsia.” Although it’s accurate, most people don’t refer to their tummy troubles as dyspepsia. It’s better to say, “Super Digestzin helps you eat your favorite foods again without feeling bloated or suffering from embarrassing gas.” *Totally fictitious product name
  • Show them why you’re their hero. Briefly explain the targeted features showing how it solves their big, hairy problem. Since it’s video, this is a great time to drive home the point visually. For example, if you’re a software program, show screenshots while explaining how you solve their problem in 3 easy clicks.
  • Answer possible objections. Sometimes, your prospects may carry objections or assumptions about you. Such as thinking you’re too expensive, or it’ll take too long to learn your program. At this point in your video, address their concerns from a positive angle. Such as, “Service plans start at only $4.95 per month” or “Our program’s so easy to use, most people master it in just 7 minutes.”
  • Tell them the next step. Yes, even on video, you must state the all-powerful call to action. Tell them to sign up, click the order button below, call for a quote…something. Don’t run out of steam here. Make it sound enticing and overcome more objections if applicable. Such as “Sign up today for your free 30-day trial. It only takes 15 seconds and we won’t ask for your credit card number.”

These 5 steps provide a basic framework for a pretty persuasive video script. Depending on your video’s purpose, you may switch around the steps or take a step out.

Spending a little more time preparing a strategically planned script can make all the difference between another video that’s forgotten to one that generates more leads or sales for you.

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Brenda Do is a freelance, direct-response copywriter in Reno, NV and President of BL Copywriting, LLC. Contact her at: www.BLCopywriting.com or brenda@blcopywriting.com

New Nevada Venture Fund for High-Growth Businesses

Posted by Ben Tedore

November 8th, 2013, 02:38:27 PM
Posted in Financing, Raising Capital, Resources | No Comments »

Nevada’s first early stage venture capital program is now live!  The Battle Born Growth Escalator Venture Program (“Battle Born”) makes equity investments in early stage, high growth Nevada enterprises.

Screen Shot 2013-11-08 at 1.41.58 PMVenture capital has not traditionally been a strong suit for Nevada; the state received only $2 per head in venture capital in the year to June 2013, compared to over $300 per head for Californians, based on National Venture Capital Association figures. On the upside, Nevada’s venture capital landscape has seen positive changes of late. In 2012, the Nevada Capital Investment Corporation (NCIC) allocated $50 million from the State of Nevada’s Permanent School Fund to investment management firm Hamilton Lane.  The Silver State Opportunity Fund is a private equity fund of funds, whose strategy is to invest at least 70% of its allocation in Nevada.  Earlier this year, the US Department of the Treasury approved an allocation to Battle Born, a complementary program that invests in smaller Nevada firms.  These programs both represent investment ‘firsts’ for the State of Nevada.

In addition, Nevada has seen an influx of investment management firms, better business incentives, more support from entrepreneurs, and recognition of the State’s opportunities. Recognizing Nevada’s advantages, investment firms, such as DCA Partners and Huntington Capital, have opened investment offices in the State, joining an established network of angel groups (such as Vegas Valley Angels, Sierra Angels and Reno Angels), venture capital and private equity investors.

The new $5 million Battle Born program helps fill the funding gap for early stage companies and will help attract promising entrepreneurs to Nevada. The fund is managed by the statewide Nevada Small Business Development Center, and is overseen by the Nevada Governor’s Office of Economic Development (GOED) under the auspices of the US Treasury’s State Small Business Credit Initiative (SSBCI). The fund invests in early stage Nevada enterprises in the following sectors: aerospace & defense, agriculture, energy, healthcare, IT, logistics and operations, manufacturing, mining, tourism and gaming, and water. The program can invest up to $1 million per business, though the average fund investment will be much lower. The funds will be prioritized for companies whose high-growth products have an enduring sustainable advantage over competitors, that have traction with customers, and that have teams with a proven track record in their industry. When investments are sold, the proceeds will be reinvested in other Nevadan companies.

“The program seeks our most exceptional entrepreneurs and companies for investment” said GOED’s Director of Technology Commercialization, Karsten Heise, who oversees the Battle Born program. Specifically, successful applicants will demonstrate:

  • a multi-disciplined team with a relevant track record;
  • traction with customers by letters of intent or proof of concept partnerships, a differentiated, defensible technology, whether it is through patents or by a unique advantage in the chosen market;
  • a substantial potential market (seeking companies that are addressing markets that have the potential to grow to at least $300 million);
  • a support network;, whether it’s in the form of a formal advisory board, or a relationship with a researcher, or an accelerator program
  • A reasonable expectation of more than a 3x return on Battle Born’s investment over a 3-5 year period
  • A clear exit plan for securing the follow-on financing needed to successfully grow the start-up

Battle Born works with pipeline partners in academic, accelerator, and investment fields and applicants are strongly encouraged to work with a pipeline partner, for example, a Nevada SBDC business counselor. “These experienced professionals can help to develop your business plan or guide you as to the best form of funding for your business” Heise added.

To apply, find details, guidelines and information about pipeline partners, see http:// battlebornventure.com/. Interested applicants should upload an executive summary or business model canvas to the project’s website.

By Nicola Kerslake, Investment Manager of the Battle Born Venture Program and Winnie Dowling, Deputy Director of the Nevada Small Business Development Center, College of Business, UNR

Affordable Care Act

Posted by admin

October 11th, 2013, 12:48:12 PM
Posted in Employees, Insurance, Legal | No Comments »
-Joel Burke (marketing intern at the Nevada SBDC)

There has been a lot of fuss lately about the Affordable Care Act, or as it is more widely known, Obamacare. It is true, there are a lot of new regulations and changes to the ways individuals will be insured. To get a head start on shopping for a new health insurance plan, all the different coverages offered in the new government program can be found in the new health care marketplace for Nevada, Nevada Health Link.

logoUnder the act, each individual is required to have basic health insurance coverage which covers some minimum essentials like emergency care, maternity care, prescription drugs, and preventative services. Individuals will have to start carrying an approved insurance plan starting in January 2014. The act does not require coverage considered non-essential for individuals or businesses, like dental or vision services. Under the Affordable Care Act, individuals are responsible for getting basic health insurance coverage, showing a qualifying exemption, or making a payment when filing their income tax form starting 2015. Individuals do not have to make a payment under the current rules if the options for coverage are unaffordable, if the individual spends less than three consecutive months without coverage, or if he qualifies for another exemption including religious beliefs or hardship. Individuals who are enrolling in a new plan in the Health Care Marketplace may be eligible for a tax credit that can be used immediately to decrease the cost of monthly premiums for the new health plan of their choosing. Eligibility and value of the tax credits are dependent on the amount of income earned by the family.

While most of the changes that come about from the Affordable Care Act are focused on individuals, there are some changes for small businesses that have more than fifty full time employees or full time employee equivalents. Small businesses with fewer than fifty employees do not have to provide their employees with health insurance. However, if a business already provides employees with health insurance or plans on doing so in the future, there will be some changes. New health care plans can be found through the health care marketplace that is designed to be easy to understand. Small businesses may be eligible for a tax credit that can offset the cost of insurance by up to 35% in 2013 and 50% in 2014. The Affordable Care Act also has new incentive programs to increase workplace wellness for employees and to encourage employers to support healthy workplaces.

While some of the most important changes have been listed above, there are other changes. In Nevada, visit https://www.nevadahealthlink.com/info/ for more information.

The Waters of Social Media

Posted by Ben Tedore

September 16th, 2013, 10:23:18 AM
Posted in Marketing, Technology | No Comments »

by Heyden Enochson, Nevada SBDC Student Intern

As the world of social media and technology continually advances and changes, businesses often find themselves lost at sea without a map, unsure of how to navigate the ever-increasing complexity of social media.

Indeed, social media could potentially be the treasure map, leading businesses directly to their customers. Increasingly, the Nevada SBDC is seeing clients with established customer bases struggling to reach their audiences.

Deciding which social media outlets your business should exploit is commonly where businesses make ineffective communications decisions. They decide to use particular social media outlets because they think it is what is “popular” or which “suits” their business best.

However, the best way to make social media decisions is research. Most established businesses have an idea of who their target demographics are, giving them a distinct leg up versus, for example, a startup company. With a fair idea of who a businesses target audience is, there is a plethora of data and secondary research relating to social media habits of different audiences. Even better is primary research, giving a business feedback and information from their customer directly.

The most important questions for a business to ask when making social media decisions?

  1. Who is my target audience?
  2. What social media outlets to they use? Why?
  3. What times of day are my audiences using said media?
  4. What value are they looking for from my businesses social media? (Why should they follow you?)

Finding the answers to these questions is essential to making effective media communications plans and strategies. The answers to these questions can lead businesses to better manipulate their social media strategies to best appeal to their audience. Taking this step could be the missing map a business needs to navigate the sea of social media.

High Desert Farming Initiative job opening

Posted by Ben Tedore

July 10th, 2013, 11:36:47 AM
Posted in Human Resources | No Comments »

Title: Farm Supervisor
Project: High Desert Farming Initiative
Location: Reno, NV
www.highdesertfarming.org

The High Desert Farming Initiative (HDFI) is a collaborative project between the University of Nevada, Reno (UNR) Colleges of Business (COB) and Agriculture, Biotechnology and Natural Resources (CABNR), and community groups. The project goals center around applied agricultural research, university and community education, and outreach. The Farm Supervisor will direct the daily farming activities of the HDFI which includes eight hoop houses, two greenhouses and a storage facility.

Essential Job Functions:

  • Directs and participates in worker activities, such as planting, irrigation, chemical application, harvesting and grading.
  • Coordinates growing activities with those of marketing, UNR facilities maintenance, and other related departments.
  • Discusses with operations team to determine acreage allocations.
  • Records information, such as production, farm management practices, and parent stock, and prepares operational reports.
  • Determines procedural changes in drying, grading, storage, and shipment for greater efficiency and accuracy.
  • Analyzes soil to determine type and quantity of fertilizer required for maximum production.
  • Inspects equipment to ensure proper functioning
  • Inspects fields and houses to determine maturity dates of crops or to estimate potential crop damage from weather.
  • Purchases machinery, equipment, and supplies, such as seed, fertilizer, and chemicals.
  • Manages student interns, volunteers and field workers while enforcing safety regulations and interpreting policies.
  • Communicates with operational team to prepare budget forecasts, estimate revenue projections and purchases.

Education and Experience:

  • Bachelor’s degree in Agricultural or related field with at least two years of paid farming experience – one year of which should be supervisory or management
  • Additional experience may be substituted for the educational requirements
  • Experience with hoop houses and greenhouses required
  • Experience in data collection preferred

Salary Range:

  • Dependent on experience

Please email a resume to the Project Manager, Jennifer Ott: jottnv@yahoo.com.

How to Create a Successful Produce Business

Posted by Ben Tedore

June 13th, 2013, 11:48:54 AM
Posted in Uncategorized | No Comments »

hhThe Nevada Herds & Harvest program combines a series of workshops on different topics, and provides educational business management and mentoring skill building to support Nevada agricultural producers.

Friday June 21, 2013

hh2Herds and Harvest REGISTRATION

 

Cottage Law – Senate Bill 206

Posted by Ben Tedore

June 11th, 2013, 02:44:16 PM
Posted in Business Conditions, Legal, License and Permits, Trends | 1 Comment »

Bill has been signed into law by Governor Sandoval, and goes into effect on July 1, 2013

On May 24, 2013, Governor Sandoval signed job-creating Senate Bill 206 on Cottage Food Industries into law in Nevada!

This bill will support micro-enterprises and farmers’ value-added products, and to allow people to supplement their income, and to test potential new business opportunities. This bill will clear the way for home cooks and farmers to make and sell products such as baked goods, jams, vinegar, granola, popcorn, dried fruits, nut mixes and dry herbs, without the requirement to invest in an expensive commercial kitchen. This bill does not include dairy or meat. Working closely with the Nevada State Health Division, the bill has been crafted to enable the value added processing of a variety of foods into products such as jams, vinegars, and baked goods from home kitchens, as long as the foods are sold directly to consumers, such as at Farmers’ Markets and other direct sale venues such as craft fairs.

Cottage Law 206 redefines “food establishments” in the eyes of Nevada law. The recent law enables individuals to run cottage food operations (production and sale of specified food items) out of their private residences. However, there are multiple restrictions included in this law.

Restrictions

Location: A cottage food item is prepared at an individual’s home, and sold either out of private home residence or a farmer’s market.

Registration: Individuals who run cottage food operations must register their businesses with the health authority, and allow their facility to be inspected by health authorities

Sales: Total sales are limited to $35,000 a year. The item must be sold by the individual who prepared it. Additionally, item may not be resold to a secondary distributor.

Labeling: Must display a label that says “MADE IN A COTTAGE FOOD OPERATION THAT IS NOT SUBJECT TO ROUTINE GOVERNMENT FOOD SAFETY INSPECTIONS.” Also, must display all other labels consistent with federal regulations.

Manufacturing: Must be made in a kitchen using industry grade appliances and utensils. No child or pets may be present. Proper sanitation and storage is a necessity.

Food Types:

  1. Nuts and nut mixes;
  2. Candies;
  3. Jams, jellies and preserves;
  4. Vinegar and flavored vinegar;
  5. Dry herbs and seasoning mixes;
  6. Dried fruits;
  7. Cereals, trail mixes and granola;
  8. Popcorn and popcorn balls; or
  9. Baked goods that:
    Are not potentially hazardous foods;
    Do not contain cream, uncooked egg, custard, meringue or cream cheese frosting or garnishes
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