Without customers you are out of business, period; if you don’t market to your customers you will lose them. It all makes sense to me, or do I have it wrong?
I went to a women’s group yesterday, sort of a lunch and learn. I spoke with two new business owners who told me they didn’t have a marketing budget. When I asked why they remarked as soon as I get some business I will have money to market. Huh?
I understand that things are tough but things will doubtfully get better for you if you don’t market. Look at it this way. You get a call from a potential customer who asks to see your press kit or your brochures or your testimonials; yes they’re all part of your marketing tools. Or they ask for your business cards and yours aren’t the greatest or consistent with your brochures. Will the customer want you to work for you? I don’t really know but marketing needs to be included in your plan if your business is going to get off the ground.
Despite definitions about what it is, no business can succeed without it. It doesn’t matter where you start, how you do it, you will need relationships to succeed. Relationships with potential customers who want to know you’re professional. You can build them on or off line; it depends on you, whichever works.
Here are some not so simple tips for your marketing that will help you get started.
What do you do that makes you different? Often referred to as your competitive advantage; according to Jack Welch, if you don’t have one you can’t compete.
This is a good place to start without it you will end up lumped in the field of sameness. Maybe you provide the same services as others; maybe you do it in a different way. That’s what makes you different. So if you’re starting with the 90 second elevator speech starts with the value and then gives your service a name and a category. Instead of saying you’re a printer, start with the exciting things you’ve made in the past or can make and then say you’re a printer. Also make whatever you do easy to understand.
You can’t do it all no matter what you think.
Just as customers are trying to decide if you’re the right vendor, you should decide if they’re the right customers. When people start their businesses they think that anyone who walks through the door is their customer. This is the hit or miss, throw some against the wall theory eventually you will get tired of the unprofitable customers. Why not decide upfront who’s profitable and go for them. It will save you time and money.
Select your customers carefully, look for partnerships. Customers are flattered by this approach. Create a checklist of attributes for your partners.
Word of mouth never goes away
Have you customer write why they bought from you on the back of their business card. A simple testimonial goes a long way. Call one customer a day just to keep in touch. Consider at the end of the year that’s 365 customers who have had a personal experience with you. Don’t call for anything other than to see how they are and to update your files. You “one customer” might have a referral for you. Don’t forget to ask for a testimonial while you’re service is still hot.
Use online marketing
I think that businesses are intimidated because they can’t spend money to create the best web site, the best blog, Facebook or Twitter accounts. Nonsense, this is the way you keep yourself from being successful. Start getting involved online; instead of talking to people who haven’t gotten business and think it’s a waste of time talk to those who are doing business. You can be sure your competitors will not talk to you about how much business they’re doing on line. And on line is mostly free. Start a discussion on line or post a question.
I know I’m not the best writer but I believe I have a message that is useful so I plug away at it. For years I was told I couldn’t write and so I didn’t had it edited over and over again. If you’ve got a good message, people will listen.
Quit selling and help people buy
When you truly put your customer’s interests above your own you become a team member, a consultant, a partner for your client. Help them determine what they really need instead of trying to sell them anything. This is true customer service. Help your customer find other partners that will help them grow; in the process you will find new partners.
Shift the risk to yourself and you will profit
Give the best guarantees possible; the absolute best. Give money back warranties whenever possible.
Be as personal as possible
This is the age of transparency and being personal. Send a handwritten note, a link to your page, or give a free eBook. Why not?
Create free publicity.
Ask people to review your book and post their comments; review an article you’ve written or a fund raiser you’ve hosted! Post surveys of way your customers think about your service or a special award you’ve received. Did you just run a race for charity? You don’t have to win to post you were there supporting the cause. Write articles for magazines in your industry or in your home town. Get the word out.
Integrate your marketing message.
Even if you’re small and can’t afford much, have all your literature create the same message
Whether you are high tech or need to use the shoe leather approach to your marketing, determine the best methods for you to create prospects and build relationships on a regular basis. The main secret of successful marketing to get started , keep doing something on a regular basis and get yourself in front of the decision makers.