Listen To Your Customers - Mary Schaeffer


Howdy, howdy everyone Tad Stephens on the Micro Success Secrets Podcast, where we focus on business psychology and marketing and how that stuff works together. Today I'm talking with Mary Schaeffer who is the founder of AP Now, a B2B Digital Media Company supplying business intelligence related to the accounts payable and payment functions of organizations of all sizes. She has been awarded one of the coveted top 50 accounts payable influences by the leading Association in this area.  And before starting AP Now she held several positions in the finance and Treasury Departments at Equitable Live Olympia in New York, and continental grain.  She has also written 20 business books.

 So what's one business or life decision that if you could change it, you would do so? 

- So if there's one thing that that that I did when I started, and by the way, I talked with a colleague of mine who made the same mistakes, and we kind of laugh about this, is that when I picked my website URL, I absolutely would not have picked one that has a dash in it is important. And then you know, people will say dash or a hyphen, and you get into these conversations and like you're off on the wrong topic, not what you want them to be thinking about. And anyway, as I said, I happen to mention to this to my colleague in England, he started laughing hysterically, because he made the same mistake. So if I was starting it, again, I would not use don't use a dash or any other fancy symbols, number one, and number two, include the keyword in your URL. Our keyword is accounts payable, and I think about it, because I talk about that all the time. Back when we chose those, we probably didn't know everything we know now.

So if you could go back also, in your career, your life, and you could think of one decision that worked out really, really well. And it's one of those things where you look at it, you look at your life, and in a way that everything that came before it and everything that came after, and you have something like that.

- I have actually kind of two to three things that I want to share. And they're not rocket scientists stuffs. Anyway, the first one is listen, listen to your customers. When they tell you something, don't just say yeah, yeah, listen to what they're saying. And I have to tell you, I've had some of my biggest successes from that the best example is about 12 years ago, we were completely print newsletter that we mailed through the mail and What a nightmare in problems that was but one of my customers came to me and she said, Why don't you have a digital version? And I thought, well, this is a no brainer. I don't really think anybody wants one but we were already shocked.

We were burning it to a PDF to send to the printer. So I thought, well, well, we'll you know, we'll put it out there. She's a loyal customer even if she's the only one who takes it, it's no big deal. And initially, it was no big deal with our audience only about 5% converted but over time, about three or four years later, I noticed most of our new subscribers were coming in as digital. And so then we made the bit the big push. So that brings me to my second point is to constantly re-evaluate, don't be stuck in Oh, this is the way we always did it. And that's how we got first from paper newsletter to a digital newsletter. To now I have to tell you, we're at we went from 16 pages to four pages.


Do you have any tips, techniques, checklists, anything did you use to keep moving to get unstuck?

- This is what I do, I have a pretty good idea in my head and I'm sure most people listening to this have what really should be done next. But sometimes the thing that needs to be done next is just something that you're not interested in doing. For whatever reason you can't do it. When you look on the internet and you talk to people, you're doing everything under the sun, but something and then everything behind it isn't getting done. So when that happens, what I do is instead of beating myself up for it, usually there's something that I really want to do, it might be an article that I'm just going to outline out or whatever, I don't beat myself up that I'm not doing whatever it is that I'm supposed to be doing. And I just do something that I want to do. I'm still getting the work done. I'm not getting the bed test.


If you had to start from scratch, what would you do?

- So I would do two things. Number one, I would have started earlier. I don't know about probably a lot of people who might be listening to this thinking about starting I had a corporate job, which to be honest, paid pretty well. And I would I stuck to it too long, because I like that paycheck, so I would have started sooner, but I didn't. And the other thing is, and I bet you you're gonna agree with this, I can't underestimate the importance of marketing on a regular basis. It's almost like you can't do too much marketing. And by saying marketing, I don't mean spamming people with email over and over again. But it's important to at least in my market, you know, continually bring new customers in because we call them members, you know, people retire people in other jobs, maybe they get tired of you if you could absolutely believe that.

IG: @maryschaeffer101

Twitter: @Accountspayable


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