Smart Words by Sarah
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Archive Monthly Archives: August 2018

E-mail is not dead.

Are you missing out on this audience?

One of the best ways to get attention is through an e-mail list. Yes, in 2018, your list is still incredibly valuable—even if you’re a local, brick-and-mortar business.

Once you have a list of prospects who might be interested in your business, you can build relationships and advertise your services to people who actually want to hear from you.

So, are you collecting e-mail addresses? There are several ways local businesses can do this.

Sponsor a table at a local event. You can give parents an incentive to sign up for your list, like a coupon or an entry into a drawing for a restaurant gift card. Events like school fairs, city carnivals, community garage sales, and family-friendly 5K races are great for this.

Hold a local event of your own. This could be a one-time thing (such as a self-defense clinic) or something more frequent (like a weekly summer reading club). With this method, you can collect e-mail addresses as part of the registration or use an extra incentive to get them at the event itself.

Put together a lead magnet. This is a free, digital resource that customers will receive when they sign up for your list. It shows that you’re an expert in your field and gives your potential customers a free resource they really want. For example, a tutoring center might distribute an e-book about teaching preschoolers to read. A martial arts school could give away a short workbook that helps parents talk to their kids about bullying.

Instead of an info product, try using a coupon as a lead magnet. This works well for people who have already visited your site or looked at your ads. It’s best for people who have seen your business and are already considering trying it. A dance studio might offer a free week of classes for those who sign up to the school’s e-mail list. A preschool could offer a free enrichment class.

There’s a lot you can do with your list once you get it. We’ll touch on that later. But for now, know that e-mail marketing is very much alive, and even businesses that rely on local traffic can leverage it to bring in new customers. And, of course, the sooner you get started, the sooner you’ll reap the rewards.

Your Partner in Growth,

P.S. If you’re interested in a lead magnet but don’t know where to start, I can help! I create lead magnets starting at $197 and write ad copy that “sells” your lead magnet for $97 an ad. Email me at or schedule a free Discovery Call to get started building your e-mail list.

5 ways to get your site visitors’ attention

I’m fairly certain I was one of the first people to order pizza online. Sadly, I didn’t get my pizza.

Here’s how it went down:

It was late 1999 or early 2000, and I was living in an apartment just off my university’s campus. I’d gone over to my boyfriend’s place. He had just gotten a DSL line to share with his three roommates, and we were marveling at the speed (and the fact that you could use the phone and the internet at the same time—mindblowing).

I’d read somewhere that one could visit and order pizza online. So we tried it.

Two hours later, our stomachs were growling and we were getting grouchy. We called the pizza restaurant and found out that they had received the wrong address and the wrong phone number from
Internet fail.

(If you’re curious, you can see what looked like in 1999 here.)

Fast forward to 2018. My boyfriend is now my husband, and we use the internet a gazillion times a day to look for whatever we need. Sometimes we even order food and receive it like it’s no big thing.

Usually, we get the information we need within seconds. That’s the standard today. It’s what everyone is used to.

It’s what your potential customers demand.

So, when parents visit your website, can they get what they need within seconds? Or are they bouncing off your page like basketballs on a backboard?

Here are five ways to make sure your visitors don’t bounce away:
Do you have a picture of real people? This could be an image of you, your staff, or your customers in action. People buy from people, and the more real the image the better. Don’t worry if you’re not a super model. Very few of us are. Including an image of you or a real-life shot of your business in action will help to build trust.

Do you have a clear call to action? If parents don’t know what you want them to do, you may lose them. Try to make your visitors’ next steps as easy and as obvious as possible, and place your call to action above the fold (that means putting it in a place they can see without scrolling down).

Do you have social proof? Today’s parents love reviews and peer recommendations. Include a few quotes from happy customers.

Can your customers find what they’re looking for? Chances are your site visitors want your location, phone number, e-mail address, and hours. Are they easy to see on your home page?

Can visitors tell what you are selling within a few seconds? They should be able to tell immediately whether your business is what they’re looking for. If they can’t tell right away, they probably won’t spend time and effort to figure it out.

Go ahead and check these five things on your home page. Making a few adjustments could keep your visitors on your site long enough for them to see who you are, what you do, and why you’re the best choice for them. Having a well-functioning site will also show them that you’re a true professional.
When you’re done, you might want to celebrate by ordering a pizza. Just don’t use the 1999 version of

Your partner in growth,

P.S. If you want more help fixing up your website, I offer a website usability and copy audit for $97. Just e-mail me at and let me know you’d like me to take a look at your site this week. I’ll give you at least five specific ways to improve your site so visitors will stick around and accept your call to action. I’ll also tell you whether your copy is on point and how you can make it better.

What a kids’ hairstylist can teach us about business.

Recently I took my son to get his hair cut at a place we hadn’t visited before. His usual place wasn’t open, and he needed a haircut ASAP.   

One of the stylists, Jessica, led us to her chair and got him set up. That’s when I took my position. My boy is five, which means he doesn’t sit still. Ever. So every time, I go prepared to hold him down. He doesn’t mind; he just needs help sitting still so he doesn’t get his ear cut off. So I hovered nearby, ready to jump in. 

But this time was different. Jessica got to work, talking to him the whole time. It turned out she didn’t need me to hold him still. The lady knew what she was doing, and she could do it despite all his little-kid wiggles and wriggles. The whole time, she was talking to him and to me. She didn’t just pick one. And she could handle it all at the same time: chatting with me about my son, chatting with my son about giraffes, and giving him a perfect haircut—without my having to hold him down. 

We will be back, and we will ask for Jessica. 

Friends, this talented lady is a prime example of how to do everything right with both kids and parents. 

So I wondered why the place was empty. Why wasn’t every kid in town on Jessica’s waiting list?

Probably because nobody knows she’s so good with kids. All I got from the salon’s website was their location, hours, and some generic photos of people with amazing hair. Good info, but not enough to build trust. 

A few simple ways this local business could get more families through their doors:

1. Ask for referrals (and provide a referral bonus). I’d love to tell my neighbors with kids about our experience. A small discount for me and the people I refer would sweeten the deal. 

2. Engage with local parents online (and include a healthy dose of personality). Some videos or anecdotes from their kid-friendly stylists would go a long way in building the brand’s story and encouraging parents to drop in. Customer stories would increase the appeal. 

Being in the business you’re in, you’re probably a relationship-building service master like Jessica. You may have employees who are masters, too. If so, your business should be booked solid. With a waiting list. 

But if you don’t have enough new customers coming in, it may be because people don’t know about you (or don’t know enough about you to call). They need to see your personality and expertise. They need you to show them that you’re relationship material. 

I can help you take the first steps. If you’re ready to get started reaching new customers through blogging or e-mails, all you have to do is book a free 30-minute Discovery Call.  I’ll listen to your needs, and we’ll see if we can work together to bring you more customers.

Relationships and humanity (Oh, the feels)

In business, as in life, relationships are everything.

This weekend my daughter’s Girl Scout troop held their annual back-to-school swim party. They hadn’t seen each other all summer, but when they got back together it was as if they’d never parted. It made my heart happy to see them come back together, the best of friends.

As I watched them cheer each other on at the diving board, I realized that all the knot-tying and camping skills in the world would be worth nothing without this bond they have. Their success as growing young women must come from both skills and human connection.

I’m sure it’s the same for the children and families that you serve. You probably teach an important set of skills, but what use will those skills be to them without genuine relationships?  I’ll bet you’re good at nurturing growth in both areas.

So my challenge for you today is to think about human relationships. Do you nurture genuine relationships with your potential customers? How about with your existing clients? With both the kids you serve and their parents?

This week we’ll talk about some simple ways that you can show your humanity in your messaging. Your program is so much more than its features, and showing it will help you stand out.

In the meantime, I’d love to hear from you. Do you think you could use a shot of humanity in your messaging? Got any tips for building relationships with parents? Please get in touch by emailing me at or sharing your ideas with other business owners in our shiny new Facebook group. I can’t wait to learn more about you and your business.