There is a very popular list of 10 Low-Cost Ways to Market Your Business that was written by Joanna L. Krotz who is the co-author of the “Microsoft Small Business Kit” and and runs Muse2Muse Productions. It is available all across the internet.
The list looks like this:
1. Take steps to make customers feel special.
2. Create business cards that prospects keep
3. Stop servicing break-even customers.
4. Develop an electronic mailing list and send old-fashioned letters.
5. Boost your profile at trade shows and conferences.
6. Combine business with pleasure — and charity.
7. Create a destination.
8. Become an online expert.
9. Court local media.
10. Finally, don’t let customers simply slip away.
I think these ideas apply to almost any business, but they are quite general and not as is easy to implement for the average person. So thought I would expand on this list and create a more specific list that you can start using tomorrow. I have also provided a few practical tactics you can use to get going.
1. Consolidate Your Database – It does not make sense to go after new business when you have raving fans eager to do business with you already. That’s right. Your client and prospect list is a goldmine, but to be effective you need to consolidate all of the contacts into one place. I don’t care whether you use Act, Goldmine, Maximizer, Salesforce, Top Producer, Outlook, an Excel spreadsheet or an index card file. Just compile all of the names of your customers, people who have expressed an interest in your product or service and any other people you can think of that might be prospects.
2. Categorize Your Database – It doesn’t matter if you choose A,B,C or Platinum, Gold and Silver or Hot, Warm and Cold, but categorize them.
3. Focus on Your Raving Fans – Finding new clients is the most expensive and time-consuming use of your marketing resources. Instead identify the people most likely to do business with you and focus your marketing efforts on them. Now this varies from business to business and service to service, but I have never met a business owner who did not admit that anywhere from 50 -80% of their business comes from repeat customers (or at least referrals from good customers which we will discuss later). After you have ensured that the most important customers have received the majority of your attention you can start prospecting for new customers. And the good news is you will have the cash flow to do so.
4. Determine the Value of Each Customer and Turn Off the Life Support for the Bottom 20% – Depending on your business you are probably spending 80% of your time on customers and prospects that provide 20% of your revenue. (Although this might not be the case if you start doing everything else right). Starting tomorrow, reverse the trend. Spend 80% of your time on the top 20% of your customers. Phone them. Write them. Email them. Offer special sales. Send free samples. Give them a gift. Make them feel like they are important.
5. Look Professional and You Will Act Professional – Take a look at all of the points of contact with customers. Does everything your customers see reflect the image you want to convey? Be honest with yourself and audit all of the internal and external points of contact. Are you cutting corners? What doesn’t seem to fit with everything else? It is no secret that I own one of the leading email stationery companies called inboxfx, so I may be biased, but as an illustration of where companies fall flat, why do you send plain text email like everybody else when you can send branded emails with links to your web site for $ 150.00 a year?
6. Practice the 4 R’s – Repeat business. Referral business. Reactivation of clients. Retention of clients. The only way to ensure a long term relationship and a steady, predictable stream of business from your customers is to focus on the 4 R’s.
Repeat business – Send special offers to clients showing them their special.
Referral business – Remind your customers that you require their referrals to grow your business and more importantly earn their trust so they refer their colleagues to you. None of your customers are walking around wondering how they can help your business or even know you need business unless you tell them.
Reactivation of clients – If they have not done business with you in a while send them something to rekindle the romance or remind them you value their business.
Retention of clients – Keep in touch with your clients and remind them you would like their business.
7. Do the Obvious – Because Nobody Else Is – By this point you are bored out of your mind and wondering if the advice will ever end, but this one could be the most important. Do all of the obvious marketing things you have read about or heard about and you will stand out from the crowd. I would venture that 90% of us know what we should do and only a small percentage of us are actually doing it. So if you do it you will stand out.
A good example is when I receive an online inquiry about email stationery complete with the prospect’s phone number. I send an email right away and tell them I will call at the time they specified. When I do call them, almost without fail they are shocked that someone actually called. I feel the same way when I sign up for something and a person actually calls me to confirm I am satisfied with the whatever. The pharmacy called me the other day to ensure my prescription was working out okay and I had never done business with this pharmacy before. Wow.
8. Pick Up The Phone – Have we forgotten how to phone our clients? While email is a quick way to communicate it is starting to be like people asking “How are you” and then not listening for your answer. Email, as much as I depend on it for a living, does not take the place of a phone call. It is impersonal, subject to misinterpretation and frankly a lazy way to communicate. Phone someone out of the blue tomorrow or call them and tell them their order is on the way and you will be surprised how a little human interaction can lead to more business.
9. Have a Business Card That Says WOW! – I know this is on Joanna’s list, but I could not agree more. If people aren’t stopping and commenting on your business card when you are handing it to them you are missing a golden opportunity to make an indelible impression on them. See my post on business cards for more information. A number of years ago I poked fun at myself by giving myself the title of “Big Kahuna” on my business card. Ten years later I have changed businesses completey, but I still have people from the past refer to me as the Big Kahuna.
10. Seek Guidance and Assistance – I would be a liar if I didn’t admit the whole purpose of this blog, other than to spend less time with my family (just kidding) is to generate business opportunities for myself. You are good at what you do, but marketing might not be one of your strengths. I am not good at what you do, but I think I am good at what I do. Call me at 800-568-8338 and ask a few questions.
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