A. How to attract New Customers:
Email & Social Media Marketing, Direct Mail, Advertising, PR, Word-of-Mouth & Referrals, Live Events, eCommerce.
B. How to Increase Revenue from Existing Customers:
Get Personal, Thank You notes & Holiday greetings; Tailor, Customer Loyalty, Newsletters, Customer Events.
C. Critical Components for Marketing Success:
unique Value Proposition, Customer Profile, Marketing Options, Budget & Plan, CRM, Conclusion
In a perfect world, your Customers would magically discover your Small Business with no effort required on your part — and they would tell their friends, who would enthusiastically buy your products & services, then spread the word even further. But, alas, getting the word out about your Business usually doesn’t occur with such ease. It takes effort + an investment of time & money in Marketing. Marketing is a huge part of owning a Small Business.
Marketing. Whether you are just starting out or seeking to grow an existing Business, finding new Customers and retaining the ones you already have presents a never-ending challenge. Both new & existing Customers are critical to your Business – and in order to reach them – you need to understand the Marketing channels available to you, and how and when to put them to optimal use.
??? What are those channels, and where do you begin? This guide will explore the possibilities for expanding your customer reach in the 21st century marketplace and help you put together a Marketing strategy that fits your budget and serves the unique needs of your Business.
A. How to attract New Customers to your Small Business or Startup
An almost overwhelming number of Marketing means are available to Small Businesses today: from online, to in-person, to print. While it may not be practical or advisable to implement them all, it helps to understand your options, so you can make informed choices that will attract the Customers you seek. Once your Startup is up and running with a Business plan, a funding source, these Marketing techniques can help you broaden your horizons and find new Customers.
1. Email Marketing . . .
is one of the most effective — and economical — ways to reach out to new Customers and stay one top with existing ones. Two things are essential for Email Marketing success: 1) a solid list of contacts, & 2) content your audience values, such as special offers, coupons, seasonal greetings, useful research, or helpful tips. To build a Prospect list that will serve your Business well, make a regular practice of gathering Email addresses from Customers and Colleagues, on your Website & Blog, at live events, and anywhere you meet prospective Customers. Offer free content such an e-book or white paper as a means of generating leads and an incentive for providing their Email address or subscribing to your Email newsletter. Then use those valuable addresses to keep your Customers engaged:
- Send Emails on a regular schedule — either weekly or monthly to start.
- Keep your Email messages short & catchy, + include a strong call to action that clearly states what you want the recipient to do.
- Provide value. Before pressing the send button, ask yourself if your Email content is useful & relevant for your Customers. If not, rethink your message.
Email Marketing tools such as Constant Contact, MailChimp, AWeber, or GetResponse provide a low-cost way to design your own Emails, compose content, view results, & manage your subscriptions.
2. Direct Mail Marketing . . .
through catalogs, postcards, flyers, etc — remains an effective way to build your Brand identity and communicate with your target Audience, even in the digital age. Printed materials are tangible, have a longer shelf life, & engage more of the reader’s senses than digital content. Plus, if you send them through the mail, they can’t help but get noticed when your addressees retrieve them from the mailbox.
How? To execute a successful Direct Mail campaign, you’ll need a Mailing list for your target audience, whether that’s your own list or one you rent from a Direct Mail vendor. Be sure your Mailer is well written & designed, + includes a clear call to action to elicit the desired response. A potential disadvantage of Direct Mail is cost. You will need to pay for printing, paper, & postage, plus a Mailing List if you choose to rent one. However, printing costs have come down considerably in recent years, and it’s possible to create a Direct Mail campaign for just about any budget.
3. Social Media Marketing . . .
offers abundant opportunities to engage with Customers, understand what’s important to them, & spread the word about your Business. Five main channels dominate the social media landscape:
- 1) Facebook: with well over one billion users, it offers the opportunity to reach out to an ever-expanding number of contacts — through posts, invitations to online or offline events, targeted content, ads, and more.
- 2) Twitter is where people of all backgrounds & professions share ideas, information, & insights — all in 140 characters or less.
- 3) LinkedIn is a professional Social Networking site where you can connect with other Business people, post Business-related insights, and join like-minded online professional
- 4) Instagram is a means to share what you do in a visual way — with images & videos that showcase your products & services.
- 5) Blog gives your Business a voice and is an excellent way to share your expertise.
If you had to choose just one Social Media channel for your Business, Facebook will probably give you the biggest return on your investment of time. But no matter which channel/s you choose, post regularly and respond in a timely way to all comments, questions – and especially complaints.
Listen. Also take the time to Listen to what your Customers & Prospects are saying online. The insights you glean can help you target your Marketing messages and hone your products & services. You can even respond with a timely Facebook post or blog article that addresses your Customers’ top concerns.
4. Advertising . . .
is a tried & true way to get the word out about your Business, but it can be costly. Since most Small Business owners don’t have a large Advertising budget, it’s critical to narrow your options to those venues that will yield the biggest return on your Advertising $$$. This requires careful up-front planning to identify your Target market, then the right timing & placement for your ads. Place your ads in the magazines, newspapers, & websites where your prospects go for info about your products & industry. Well-targeted Ads placed in traditional media, such as magazines & newspapers, have high success rates, but can be pricey. Digital ads are available for a fraction of the cost and can reach a much wider audience (not obese people. LoL). Options include Targeted ads on Facebook, Twitter, & LinkedIn, + pay-per-click ads that appear in search results, on website banners, & other strategic internet locations.
Directories. Every Small Business owner also should check out online Directories such as Yelp & Google Plus. These are free forms of advertising that reach a large audience in search results. Claim your listings & complete your Business profile, then ask Customers who are happy with your products or services to post reviews.
5. Public Relations & Publicity
News & Publicity about your Business can build credibility & brand recognition, + can generate leads. With an investment of your time (or the time of a Freelancer), you can pitch your own stories & generate coverage – usually free of charge:
- Press Releases to Media contacts that cover your industry.
- Post Events on online + print calendars available thru newspapers, magazines, & other media outlets.
- Register with Help a Reporter as an expert resource in your industry. You may be quoted by reporters, bloggers, & journalists who tap your expertise.
6. Word-of-Mouth & Referrals
Word-of-mouth is the most reliable means to get new clients. According to a recent Nielsen study, 83% of consumers take action based on recommendations from people they know. The most obvious way to generate Referrals is to deliver outstanding products or services – along with Customer Service that sets your Business apart from the competition. Always be personable, return phone calls promptly, & go the extra mile. Delighted Customers will naturally tell others. You may also join a Small Business alliance where members make a practice of sharing Leads & Referrals, or agree to share referrals with other Businesses that complement your own and have the same Target customer.
7. In-Person Presence
An in-person presence is still one of the best ways to make an impression. Meeting people face-to-face builds relationships & trust, and makes your Business and brand more memorable. Get out and meet people. Engage in friendly conversation + network wherever & whenever you can. Join your local Chamber of Commerce. Attend industry Trade Shows, Events, & Conferences – where you can meet face to face with lots of people who share your expertise or are in need of your products or services. Volunteer to serve on committees within your community — anything to bring notice to your Business and get to know prospective Customers.
8. Live Events — Both in Person & Online (Webinars)
Live Events take your in-person presence to the next level by engaging your Customers in a more formal way. Events may be held on or offline, and you may serve as either a Host or Sponsor. Done right, events can help you build new relationships and leave a lasting impression of your company, product, or service.
Forms. Live events can take many forms, from How-to & Charity events, to an evening with a special guest, or a presentation at a Conference or Trade Show. Your presence may be in person or you may generate engagement using online means:
- Webinars are an interactive way to deliver training, lectures or workshops to an audience that is unlimited by geographical location. Top webinar tools include Zoom, GoToWebinar, ClickMeeting, & Adobe Connect.
- LiveStream. You can also live stream events of which you are the Host or participant via social media, such as Facebook, or apps such as Livestream.
To spread the word about your event – in addition to Email, Social Media, & PR, consider Meetup.com, an online facilitator of in-person events with millions of members around the world. For a Small fee, you can set up an Event page with all relevant details and Meetup will spread the news to the members within your geographic location who meet your target areas of interest.
9. ECommerce Marketplaces
Many Small Businesses sell their goods or services through eCommerce marketplaces — online portals that represent multiple third-party sellers – whether of a particular type of product or a range of different products. Shoppers benefit thru access to many different sources & competitive prices. Small Businesses benefit through access to a much larger audience than they could reach on their own. Often, the marketplace reach is global. Most marketplaces work in a similar way. The marketplace displays the seller’s offerings & processes transactions in exchange for a fee. The third-party seller maintains inventory, ships products, & controls pricing. Here are 4+ of the most popular eCommerce marketplaces online today.
- 1) Amazon.com is the largest online marketplace in the U.S., selling everything from clothing, to electronics, to multimedia products. The price competition is fierce, though. You may need to reduce your usual profit margin, in addition to paying Amazon’s fees.
- 2) eBay is the original online marketplace for both auction and retail items, with close to 96 million unique shoppers per month. But buyers command low prices & eBay’s fees can add up.
- 3) Shopify. You can create your own online store. Shopify takes care of the Marketing, payment processing, & shipping, + provides tools so you can manage your inventory, fulfill orders, and track sales and growth on your own. Multiple monthly plans range from $29–$299 per month.
- 4) Groupon & Living Social offer daily deals & coupons to their online networks of millions of Customers. They attract Customers by offering deals at a greatly reduced cost. You may not make a profit on goods or services you sell through either marketplace, but you can gain exposure and establish new customer relationships to build upon. Just be prepared for the influx of Customers that will likely come your way.
B. How to Increase Revenue from Existing Customers
While new customer acquisition is vital to your Business, your existing Customers actually mean more to your bottom line. The probability of selling to an existing customer is 60–70%, while the probability of selling to a new prospect is 5–20%, according to the book, Marketing Metrics.. So it’s important to not take your existing Customers for granted — and to maintain focus on retaining & increasing their Business with you.
These strategies, in addition to those we’ve already covered, will help develop loyalty that will keep your Customers coming back.
10. Get Personal.
Send Thank You notes & Holiday greetings; Tailor your services & communications to meet your Customers’ unique needs & interests.
11. Reward Customer Loyalty.
Give discounts or hold sales exclusively for your existing Customers. Offer rewards such as gift cards or a free item to those who refer their friends & family, or who spend a certain amount of money with your Business.
12. Send out a monthly or weekly Newsletter . . .
with news of business, product or service updates, & valuable tips & ideas. This is one of the most effective ways to stay in touch and keep your Customers thinking about you in between purchases & sales calls. If you encourage your subscribers to share your newsletter with friends & family, it can also be a lead generation tool.
13. Host Customer Events . . .
as a way to show your appreciation & build deeper relationships. These can be times to socialize, such as a sit-down dinner at a restaurant or a golf outing. You can also use them as opportunities to offer Training or share News about your Business, your product line, or advances in your industry. Your Customers will appreciate the attention, and the connections you establish may pave the way for up-selling products or services.
C. Critical Components for Marketing Success
Choosing the Marketing means that will bear the bestfruit for your Business is critical: The right choices will pay off with more Customers. The wrong choices will cost both time & money. To identify the vehicles best suited to your Business, these steps are essential:
14.Know your unique Value Proposition
This is a short statement that summarizes the most persuasive reasons why people should do Business with you vs your competition. Clearly articulating your UVP gives Direction to your Business and increases the effectiveness of your Marketing efforts.
15. Create a Customer Profile
Describe your ideal Customer in detail, including age, gender, marital status, earnings, & location – as well as lifestyle. This will guide your choice of Marketing means and their placement, + help you compose messaging that will resonate with your Target audience.
16. Evaluate your Marketing Options throughout the Customer Journey
Will you advertise, host an event, or vend your wares through an eCommerce marketplace? To answer these important questions, map out your Sales Cycle and begin by identifying where your Prospects go for info about the products or services you sell. Decide how you will convey your Value Proposition at that point and at all later points through final sale & customer retention.
17. Create a Marketing Budget
The Small Business Administration (SBA) says that Small Businesses with revenues less than $5 million should generally allocate 7–8% of their revenues to Marketing, but every Business is unique. SBA advises Small Business owners to start Small. Marketing is a form of gambling. Don’t bet the farm — an amount greater than you’re afraid to lose. Marketing is about failure, learning, & getting better. If you’re just starting out or experimenting with new Marketing means, start Small. Test out various options & evaluate the results. Increase your spending in those areas where you achieve success.
18. Create a Marketing Plan
Put in writing your UVP, Customer profile, & the Marketing options you’ll employ to reach your Target audience/s. Include your budget. Remember, this is a guide and not set in stone. Once you’ve had the opportunity to put your Marketing plan to the test, re-evaluate your plan every 3-6 months or so and make any necessary refinements.
19, Get a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) System
A CRM allows you to consolidate & organize the information you gather about all your new & existing Customers, then use that info to manage your relationships. This will help to ensure a positive experience for all.
Marketing is a constant process of trying new tactics + assessing their cost & effectiveness. By knowing your Business’s capabilities & limitations — then evaluating your Marketing plan on a regular basis — you’ll be in a good position to make informed decisions that yield results. Just never stop improving your Marketing.
Comments: Do you know any other way to find new Customers?
from Small Biz Ahead 3-21 enhanced by Peter/CXO Wiz4.biz
For additional Info, click on Customers.