20 Straightforward Tricks to Pull in More Customers Using Less of Your Time and Mone by Mar DeWitte - HTML preview
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"Now my service is apart from the rest of the competition resulting in an increase of leads and policies sold."
Carlos A. Diaz, Owner, Diaz Agency, San Diego
"I learned how to expand my client base, increase my revenue and income..."
Ghada Jadallah, Personal Chef, www.dashofsaltnpepper.com
"...certainly lead to solidifying Green Lizard Lawn Care's brand and in turn increasing sales."
Nicole Davis, Founder, greenlizardlawns.com
"...will help me reach out to new customers, I would not have known how to reach."
Harland Henry, Business Consulting,
"...the tips have increased visibility resulting in more new patients."
Jason Hurley, Chiropractor, Tampa
"...the more thought I gave it, the more sense it made: book more clients, increase our profit margins."
Sherry Lee, www.caymanvillas.com
"...ideas I haven't thought of in the 12 years of running this
[business], thank you very much."
Robert Dickey, R&T Computers, www-rtc.no-ip.biz In this economy, many small business owners are looking for ways to gain more customers, cut costs and reduce expenses.
Throughout this guide you will learn 20 tricks to accomplish those goals.
And, there’s nothing complex or highly technical about these tricks. They can easily be implemented by the vast majority of small business owners. The most important thing will be to take what you learn from this guide and put it into action.
With that in mind, let’s get started so you can begin growing your business...
How can I attract more customers?
One of the most effective and easiest ways to attract new clients is to get existing, loyal clients to buy more and additional products from you. Think about it: you have already established a relationship with them so why not continue with that relationship?
Consistently offer them new and valuable products that reinforce the trust they have in your products and your business. Keep the communication (emails, newsletter, calls, videos, etc.) with your customers very informative so it doesn’t feel like you are hard selling them with each message.
For example, a personal chef sends her existing clients an email newsletter with her newest weight-loss menus, tips on how to preserve cooked meals, tips on how to organize a birthday party, a graduation, a wedding, etc.
When she then offers you her catering services for your next Holiday Party, you will think of her as an expert you came to trust and most likely schedule the event with her.
On the other side of the scale lies, of course, finding new customers. One of the major and most effective ways to entice new clients is to join forces with other complementary small businesses. What I mean is you look for small business owners who offer a complementary service/product and create a
Think of a hairdresser partnering up with a spa for example. Then you agree to offer each other’s services or products to each other’s clients. By doing this you get exposure to a whole new client base. Setting up a marketing
partnership is a very simple process and has nothing to do with a legal partnership.
You make your potential partner see how they will benefit from the partnership, agree on who does what and off you go. It’s a WIN-WIN situation for both parties involved.
For example, you could look for another business that sells tangible products and delivers them to customers. If you’re selling organic body products, put a tiny organic sanitizer and your product catalog in the box of a business that ships back massagers to buyers.
Marketing partnerships typically yield one or more of the following benefits:
expanded customer base beyond its current limits
less risk than some other marketing strategies
no cash requirement
creation of a virtual advertising budget rivaling a larger company
boosted the company image or brand
broadened product/service offerings
made it easy to enter a new market/industry
tough to duplicate for the competition
used as a surplus inventory liquidator with no discounting
got customers one would never have reached otherwise
increased cash flow
removed geographic limitations
All you need to do is to be open and look for possible partners that can help you promote your business. And, if you really think about it, there are potential marketing partners just around the corner.
Another means of gaining new customers is by referrals from current customers. The straightforward method is to simply ask for referrals every time someone buys from you. Of course, to make it worth your customer’s while, you can offer them a reward for their referral, such as a percentage discount on their next order or a free gift, redeemable when their referral has completed their first purchase with you.
Additionally, to entice both the referrer and the referree, you can provide your customers with referral certificates they can share with their friends and colleagues. The certificate can be for a new customer gift or discount. The certificate will have a place for the referrer to write their name, so when the referree redeems their certificate, you know who referred them and can reward them.
Maybe, every time someone buys from you they get a free T-shirt to help spread the word about your company.
The right referral program can be a WIN-WIN-WIN for you, your customer and your new customer.
How do I increase my profits?
Typically the three ways to increase profit are:
increase your sales volume (leaving everything else the same), increase your sales price or reduce your costs.
The first technique in boosting profits is developing a good rapport/relationship with your existing customers, as mentioned earlier. This will help increase the value of your average sales transaction and the number of times customers buy from you.
The second method was increasing the number of customers by partnering up with other businesses and sharing your client base. That way you both grow your business influence and create a more dominant market presence.
Or, you can tap into other new client base’s. For example, a dietitian can give a nutrition or weight-loss talk to clients of a personal injury lawyer and chiropractor. This works because the lawyer and chiropractor see this as an opportunity to meet each other’s clients. They invite prospects and provide the space. After the event the dietitian follows up with a CD of the talk or other valuable information.
Increasing your sales price is, of course, another way to raise your profits.
As most business owners, you might think that price is the number one purchase criteria with your customers. Research studies show however that selection, customer service, quality and confidence in the product/service are usually equally or more important.
And most of the time this means that you may be undercharging and earning lower profits than you could. To overcome this stumbling block all you have to do is persuade customers that your product/service is different. This is often referred to as differentiating your product/service. After doing that, you
can seriously think about increasing your pricing as a way to increase your profits.
But how do I differentiate a product that is a commodity you may ask? Well, you give prospects/customers something that improves their lives. The Michelin Guide comes to mind.
As most people will tell you, Michelin makes tires which are clearly a commodity product. So, to differentiate themselves what they came up with was a travel guide for car owners. The travel guide not only created brand awareness for the Michelin products but also gave car owners, old and new ones, the confidence and knowledge to take trips more easily and more often
– wearing down their tires, naturally.
Another way to raise profits is to offer related upsells to your product.
Because of the higher perceived value of the transaction the customer is buying.
For example, if you sell fountain pens, sooner or later the customer will need ink, so why not offer an extra bottle of ink with the pen purchase at a discounted rate? That way, they save money while you just increased the value of the transaction. If you sell inkjet printers, offer ink. If you sell shoes, offer shoe polish. Pretty easy, isn’t it?
Last but not least is reducing costs as way to grow your profits. We will discuss this in detail in the next question.
Most important to remember here is to pick one specific method you want to use to boost profits and then create a clear step-by-step plan on how to execute it. Once you have implemented one technique, move on to the next one.
And finally, measure which method the most effective one was for your business. That way you know what to further optimize, systemize and duplicate to gain even higher levels of profitability.
How do I reduce my costs?
Reducing your costs as a small business owner can make all the difference.
And thanks to the internet and globalization it is not a far-fetched goal for you anymore.
The internet and social media sites make it possible to share your business and services globally. Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube are the most common sites where you can set-up an account for your business and start networking and get connected.
Another big way to promote yourself and your website now is through
“organic” search engine optimization. I know this is a mouth full but all it means is that there are free ways to get your website exposed and looked at.
And the more your website gets looked at, the more the search engines will look at it as an authority site on the subject and bump it up on the search results pages.
There is much training and hype about this method but I want to keep it simple and clear for you here. So one of the things you can start doing is look for forums and blogs related to your business, product or service and start leaving comments and tips on there including a link to your website.
These comments and tips need to be informative and helpful to the readers and not come over as hard selling your business. Another way to help get links into your website is to write articles (or get someone to write articles for you) about your business and post them on Ezinearticles.com.
Again here the articles are not sales/promotional but providing your target market with valuable and trustworthy information. And at the bottom of the article you add your website link and what you are offering.
If you are a bit more committed, set-up a free blog about your business where you post regular content on your subject.
The internet search engines like blogs because their content is fresh. Also, add an opt-in form on your blog (and website) so visitors can leave their email in return for a free guide, a free consultation or a discount coupon for example.
Since we are talking about coupons, drop off coded coupons to hotels in your neighborhood. Staff at hotels are constantly asked for advice on nearby shops, spas, hair salons or other retail businesses. You may even provide free products/services to hotel employees who referred the most business to you.
Or, you print coupons offering specials. Then you contact charities, sports clubs/teams, religious groups or schools and allow them to give the coupons to members. When a member comes to your store the charity, club, church or school receives a percentage of the proceeds.
Another way to reduce your costs substantially is outsourcing. You can find ways of outsourcing simple, repetitive tasks to capable and willing people.
I know outsourcing is kind of a sensitive subject, but I am thinking in terms of outsourcing your administrative tasks to a virtual assistant, for example.
Outsourcing your bookkeeping records could save you hiring a full time employee or two and reduce your overhead drastically. Start by making a list of simple repetitive tasks which you could easily write procedures on.
Then put out your job requests on well known outsourcing sites like odesk.com, elance.com, guru.com and see what offers you get back. This might be time consuming at first but in the long run you will reap the benefits.
Another option would be to put out your job listings on Craigslist or any job board of universities and colleges. There are people out there who are willing to do a great job.
These were some examples on how to reduce your costs in your small business which can be implemented quietly and easily after spending a bit of time and effort.
How can I fight increased competition?
I prefer not to use “fighting” the competition because it kind of emphasizes that there is not enough to go around for everyone. So, I like to answer this question with either recommending you team up with your competition or, if they are a bit short-sighted and that is not possible, you differentiate your offering so much from the competition that they are not a direct threat to your business anymore. This could be by offering your product or service to a very well defined clientele.
You need to find that one thing that makes you unique in what you offer.
Why are your clients choosing you over other businesses? Well, the best place to discover this unique “thing” is by asking your existing customers.
Another way to differentiate yourself is by looking at your competitors and looking at the missing links, such as what features in their product/service do they not provide, what type of client are they not serving, and what problem or pain of the customer/prospect is not being solved. If you are good at what you do and know your product, you will always find something that can be done better or improved.
Once you have determined your “unique” selling point, you can now summarize that into a powerful but short phrase. This phrase is now a characteristic that differentiates you from the competitor.
So when someone asks what you are doing, don’t just say “I’m a massage therapist” but respond with “I help women become stress-free.” This will eliminate the need to “fight” your competition and help create real value for your customers.
Another way to leave your competition behind is marketing partnerships.
Look for organizations or people that can give you access to a new customer base. For example, a real estate agent can offer to provide his services at a
50% discount to a “home buyer” parent who sends a provided mailing to the entire school's parents endorsing her services. The real estate agent can do that with all private schools in her neighborhood, childcare centers, churches, sports clubs, you name it.
As a result the real estate agent will be known as the go-to person in these communities. In addition, the realtor can add additional marketing partners such as mortgage brokers, contractors, lawn care services and many more.
Once, a parent would use her services she would get her client in touch with all her other business partners earning a commission, naturally.
Or, if you own a computer repair shop you could join an industry association.
You create marketing partnerships with the members who own/manage computer related businesses. The idea is to market your business to the members as an add-on service to their products/services. And they would promote your service to their existing customers and when new clients buy from them.
Always think one-to-many: one business/person can give access to lots of target customers.
How can I advertise my small business without having to spend massive amounts of money?
Some of the simplest ways to advertise your business are not that secret or complicated. Here are a couple that have helped small businesses to tighten up their belts and trim the fat from their advertising budgets.
The classifieds. The local classifieds section usually has a section for free ads.
Use as many free classified ads as you can but keep a record of sales from them. Once you find which one works best you can gradually cut down on the others and only use the sales generating ones. This tracking of ads takes some time but it will be well worth it at the end.
Message boards. Most malls and larger shops, even some small ones or coffee shops have a message board for customers to post messages. If you regularly use certain shops, ask the owner or sales person if you could display some flyers or business cards. In turn you could advertise his business in the same way if he is not a competitor.
Also be sure to leave your business cards at any public and social venue you attend, especially if the social gathering is related to your line of business, is an industry event, or is in a public place.
If you’re looking for a “mobile message board” wrap part of an employee’s car in your company's advertisement in exchange for free-gas-money. If you want to take it outside your company offer an incentive that makes people talk about and want to sign up for the mobile message board, for example offer them a free carwash every month for life as long as their car’s wrapped.
Donations. This one is not entirely free but it is a small price to pay for the exposure it gets your business. Offer a local charity, fire department, police station or any public service a new product or related service of yours. Then let your local paper know about it as an event and item of interest for their readers. You might be pleasantly surprised by the response and interest of the public.
Or, let’s say you’re selling B2B and have a conference room with plenty of media tools. Contact associations, charities and other organizations without good meeting spaces. The members of the boards of those organizations are often business owners and community leaders.
Word of mouth. This is one of the most effective advertising any business can have. If your service or product is great, people will talk about it. And networking at social events can work wonders.
Or, create your own “word-of-mouth” network. Contact 10 other business owners who you worked with in the past and feel comfortable referring business to. Tell them that you are creating an exclusive network of the top 50 businesses in the neighborhood and invite them to become a member.
But tell them that they need to recommend 5-10 other business owners who should belong to this exclusive group.
Then you pay someone to create a very basic web page on your website that features the group’s business directory. The entire group then promotes the directory/webpage and refers business to each other.
If you are an “online person”, Twitter can create buzz for your business. Make lots of friends on Facebook and tell them about your business, but don’t spam or give them a sales pitch. Join in discussions on forums and give other members value first before discussing your business. Blogs are great for giving and getting feedback. Also, writing or paying someone for an e-zine article about your product or service (discussing or reviewing your product) leads to sales as long as you don’t hard-sell.
There you have it. These small business advertising ideas can save you some hard earned money and boost your business at the same time. For more advertising ideas go to www.small-business-partnership.com.
How do I use networking to grow my business?
Yes, networking is still one of the most powerful ways to grow your business.
But the good thing is if you are one of those business owners that dreads networking, dread no more because the internet is here and is slowly catching up to in-person networking.
Before we go into the types of networking, I want to point out that networking means “making connections with people.” From partnerships to strategic alliances to preferred vendors, it’s “who you know” that seems to play an important role in growing your business.
In-person networking is still very important and can not be underestimated in this age of dominating social networking sites. It still pays off to get out there by attending Chamber of Commerce, BNI or Association events and meetings or going to industry related training seminars.
When attending these meetings be brave enough to get out of your comfort zone and approach people you do not know yet. And remember you are not there to hard sell because that would be the quickest way to repel people who don’t know you just yet. Be yourself and talk about how you add value to the market place.
For the internet side of networking, I know it can get overwhelming sometimes so let me try to give you a quick overview of what is out there.
As mentioned, the social networking sites used most frequently to market a business are: Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and YouTube.
When using these sites to promote your business remember to not get too sales-ey instead focus on what value added information you can provide readers. It is all about building trustworthy relationships with prospective clients. Think in terms of what you can share with your target market to make their life easier and relieve any pain or frustration.
Monitor the time versus return on your social marketing efforts so you do not get too sucked into. Ideally you would outsource the “maintenance” of your social networking accounts to a youngster so you can stay focused on developing your sales channels and products.
Where do I find the best marketing help for my small business?
As a local business, the best help you can get is by joining forces with other small businesses. Contact some non-competing small businesses serving customers in your geographic market. Offer to promote their products/services to your customers in exchange for them offering your services to their customers. This usually produces sales at a very low cost.
Partnering up also allows you to achieve advantages of scale, scope, and speed. You can take advantage of other people’s infrastructure. You can take advantage of other people’s reach and customer access.
When looking for these partner businesses you want to ensure that their customer base can become your “perfect” customers.
Which means, you look for clients that will benefit from your product/service and with whom you can establish long term relationships. So when looking at another business’ offering make sure it is complementary to your products/services.
There has to be a common ground between your customers and theirs, like a spa owner teaming up with a hairdresser or a beauty salon with a women’s clothing store.
It will set you up for success and the marketing partnerships you create will be the best marketing help you ever invested in - at virtually no cost to you.
What more can a local business owner ask for?
How can a marketing strategy help my small business?
Creating a small business marketing strategy is vital for evoking and accelerating business growth. It helps you focus on the right things at the right time and measures your progress toward that goal.
First, start with your business goals for the next six months. You should already have these, for example your target revenue, if nothing else. Now, what marketing goals align with those business goals? How many leads do you need to generate in order to reach this revenue target? 10 per day, 20 or 50?
Next you need to pick one or two marketing strategies that deliver on what you are aiming for and hit your target revenue. Do you want more publicity, expand into new markets, cross promote, create a direct mail campaign or create sales partnerships?
Let’s say you are a business coach and decide that creating partnerships is your strategy of choice. So, you partner up with a local business newspaper that agrees to sponsor one of your seminars.
Also you agree to split the income derived from selling seminar seats in return for a promotional campaign in print. That way the newspaper covers all ad costs and you benefit from the credibility that sponsorship generates in addition to any back-end sales you’ll gain from the seminar.
The point is: determine what specific activities will achieve the chosen marketing strategies. Put these activities together into a worksheet and create target metrics (e.g. number of leads collected, calls, presentations made, etc.).
And—presto!—you have just created your own customized marketing plan.
Congratulations, now you have something to measure against. Review the
plan once a month to see if you are on track or if something needs to be adjusted.
What is branding and why is it so important for
my small business?
Branding, which conveys your product’s/service’s uniqueness, includes your advertising and marketing communications.
Think about branding as the sum of feelings that your customers carry around in their head about your product or service.
And that encompasses everything that you’re going to do or have done in the marketing area, starting with the name of the product, moving on to the logo, including the colors that you use, the packaging, etc.
So, how do you start creating your brand image? Well, ask yourself, “When I say my brand name, what picture do I want my customers to have in their mind?”
Start with your product/service. You have to understand your product and what its primary benefits are.
Then secondly, look at your customers and see what their primary wants and desires are and see where the fit is with your product’s benefits. Most brands only stand for one primary benefit at a time. People don’t carry multiple benefits about a brand in their head.
So really spend some time pinpointing that one thing that your brand stands for. What image do you want in your customer’s mind and what top-of-mind statement do you want them to recite when they think of your company?
For small business branding, the lesson is when you do a good job owning/preempting the right customer benefit, it can make you No. 1 in your market. And, it is actually possible to transfer your brand image to different products within a category or a niche.
For more hands-on details read:
How do I know if my marketing efforts are paying off?
Marketing is the livelihood of any business, and it must cover more than business cards and a local classified ad. Poor or no marketing equals no sales... equals business failure.
Do your homework before you launch your product or service and identify your target markets, figure out how to best reach them, and establish clear objectives to ensure your marketing efforts are paying off.
Yes, this is what we discussed in the question about your marketing strategy.
So the most important way to find out if your marketing efforts are paying off is to track results from every marketing activity you take. You need to analyze how many leads it has brought in and how many sales transactions followed those leads.
Establish these metrics in a simple worksheet that you can access to edit and monitor results.
For example, what will give a business more profitable sales revenue?
Number 1: You’re a CPA and customers can select from a list of charities (whose board members have access to customer bases) and can give away one of your services free of charge. Your customers do good and spread the word about your business at the same time.
Or, number 2: You tell your chiropractor that you want to take over part of his accounting at no cost. In exchange, the chiropractor will send a letter recommending your accounting services to all other chiropractors in town.
Reviewing and updating the results of those activities with real-time numbers will allow you to look at your marketing history and make decisions about types of activities you should spend more energy on or well, discontinue.
After all, if you don’t know where you are or where you have been, it’s impossible to know where you are going.
So come on and get that worksheet started now!
What should my small business marketing website
incorporate to attract customers?
The primary goal of your website should be to initiate contact with a potential customer either by email, phone, or in-person. To achieve that, your website presentation must be engaging, enlightening, and above all memorable. Potential clients want a little excitement, a little respect, and an understanding that you are asking them to put their faith in you.
The very first thing that you want to do is get their attention and interest.
Basically what you need to do is offer your client a solution for her/his pain or problem she/he is currently experiencing. By doing that, they understand that you have something that may help them. Only then, they are ready to explore further what you have to offer and enter into a sales conversation with you.
To get your prospect interested, you must present marketing information about your business in the right order. The order that I’m talking about is as follows:
1) First you talk about the problem or pain they are experiencing.
2) Then talk about the solution to that problem or pain.
3) Then you present a story about a customer of yours, describing the resolution of the problem with your product or service.
4) Next share some credibility, i.e. what you’ve already done for other clients, your credentials, certifications, etc.
5) Only now, talk about the PROCESS as to how and what you do when offering a service or how your product works for example.
6) And last but not least, give them a call to action like signing up for your newsletter or tip of the week or ebook or requesting a consultation or product purchase...
Those are the points you want to show on your website. Keep in mind that in contrast to popular believe in most cases, the process part (nr. 5) is the least important part for your customer. Yet, that’s what a lot of business owners focus on when communicating to their prospects.
Including above mentioned on your website is a recipe for success and will keep your website interesting and enticing for your readers. For more information about the subject go to:
What should I include in my marketing material package?
The most important thing you need to do when creating marketing materials is to educate your customers on
why you can solve their problem.
Start with a one page sales letter explaining how you are different from anyone else in your business, stating at least three big benefits of doing business with you from their perspective. Benefits are attached to the customer, features attached to your product/service.
Always think in terms of what’s in it for them. And always include a story, such as how you got started, why you created the product, how you overcame adversity, etc. People love stories.
When assembling your marketing materials do not go overboard and start printing out 10,000 copies each. Carefully analyze and define the purpose of each of your marketing packages and create different kits for different purposes.
The marketing materials that any small business would benefit from having are:
A color brochure about your business with a strong call to action.
Postcards including a strong call to action.
Glossy Business cards, yes you guessed it, with a call to action.
A magnetized version of your business card so a client can have your phone number/website information prominently displayed.
A SHORT guide answering the most frequently asked questions about your offering AND also questions your clients should be asking when shopping for a product/service such as yours.
The FAQs are to show that you understand and can solve their problem and the “should be asking” part is to differentiate your business from anybody else’s.
Another suggestion would be to do the FAQs in video format. You answer one question per video and upload the videos to your website and video sites such as YouTube.
Imprinted promotional “leave behinds” such as quality pens, sticky notes, notebooks, mouse pads, caps, bags, stress balls, calculators, coasters or document folders.
Give your customer a great visual “hook” by choosing a product that they want to use and that reinforces your marketing message. For example, a stress ball might be a good promotional item for a yoga studio.
Remember to include what you want to be known for in all your materials and try to stick with the marketing process (1-6) from Trick 11.
What are some effective promotional activities for small businesses?
Every successful small business uses some sort of promotion to reach their customers/prospects. Direct results from such promotional activities can include: increased visibility in the market, added credibility for you or your company or enhanced image or brand.
The following cost-effective, easy-to-implement examples are some of the promotional activities that can boost your sales revenue in a way traditional advertising cannot. (for a better way go here www.myBusinessGrowing.com)
Create a buzz around your business by setting up a contest related to your product/service. An invitations company can organize a contest for
“Best Card Design” and send out a press release announcing the contest and who will be judging.
Or, create a video contest where you ask customers to show the funniest way to use your product. The videos are posted on your website and video sites and the customer video with the most views wins. Be creative and innovative here and the rest will flow.
Demonstrations are a way to attract people to your door step.
Show them how to best use your product, and establish credibility. Key here is to offer a demonstration of your product solving the customer’s pain or problem. Don’t forget a call to action after the demonstration.
Give your existing clients a price break of 10-20% percent or more.
It makes them feel valued as a customer. It will help you in building a loyal relationship with existing clients and entice prospects to check you out.
Other promotional ideas you might want to consider are: bonuses, donating your product/service to a charitable cause, free product samples, free temporary trials if your product is big or more expensive or what about a free review?
Let’s say you are a dietitian or personal trainer. What you do is, you eat at a healthy restaurant and ask the owner to display a food review that you’ll write on each table (1/2 letter size so it fits into those little table display holders). If you want to take it a step further, contact your community paper or local magazine and asked them to publish your review.
Which restaurant owner or dietitian/personal trainer wouldn’t want that kind of publicity? Key is to pick restaurants where your potential customers hang out. Think about it: What do you do when you wait for your seat, food, drink or bill? You’re either bored or read a review.
Make sure to track the results from each promotional activity so you can determine which one was the most effective, i.e. increased sales the most.
What is my unique selling proposition (USP)?
Your business’ USP contains the sole biggest benefit which you provide to your buyers. It’s the one main customer benefit which distinguishes you entirely from your competitors.
It clarifies what’s specifically important for your buyer and anything you exclusively provide that your competition does not. It’s the main reason your customers will insist on buying from you. Here are two USP examples: Wal-Mart: “Expect More, Pay Less.”
Lexus: “The Relentless Pursuit of Perfection.”
Wal-Mart’s USP is based on the lowest possible price, while Lexus’ is based on the ultimate in quality. They each know what they do and they each excel at doing it: Wal-Mart customers appreciate cheap prices and Lexus customers appreciate the best quality. Wal-Mart customers do not appreciate “best quality” as much as they appreciate getting the best deal.
Now think, what is the customer benefit that you offer and your competitor doesn’t? Or, what do you do better than your competition?
Or, what do your customers want? For example, Wonder Bread was the first that said, “…builds strong bodies 12 ways.” The bread was identical to other competing brands yet Moms bought Wonder Bread. Because Moms (the customer) wanted their kids to grow strong and healthy. Wonder Bread communicated to Moms exactly what they were looking for.
That’s how powerful the right USP can be. So what’s yours?
Why should I consider outsourcing for my small business?
With outsourcing I mean employing the services of an individual or a company or a freelancer outside of your business to handle tasks inside your business. Nothing mysterious or dubious about it.
All you are really doing is looking for people who can do a task better and much faster than you without hiring them full time. And, as discussed in question # 3, it may be a wonderful way to keep more money in your pockets.
Here some examples of what you could outsource: copy writing, designing a logo, creating and managing a website, software development, bookkeeping, payroll, customer services, graphic design work, administrative tasks, accounts receivables, data entry, legal tasks, or content writing for articles.
Admit it… one person cannot be an expert in everything. As an example, if you hire a virtual assistant for about $300 a month from asksunday.com, you get 20 hours/month and a highly skilled “worker bee” who can take care of basic administrative or life tasks that you are wasting time on. What would you do with an additional 3 days each month to market your business?
If $300 is too much, share the virtual assistant with a fellow business owner, friend or spouse.
Start by making a list of simple repetitive tasks. Then you can submit your projects to known outsourcing sites like odesk.com, elance.com, guru.com and see what bids you get back.
In the beginning, there might be a bit of a trial and error period but once you have chosen the right freelancer you can build up a relationship with them. If you continue to use their services, you will know how to deliver your message
to them for quick turnaround. And, in time they will get to know you and your business well enough to suggest things you might not have thought of.
Besides cutting costs, you will now have extra time to create more income by focusing on income producing tasks.
Some of the popular outsourcing sites include:
Elance - accounting services, legal services, web site design, writing, etc.
iFreelance - accounting services, data entry, graphic design, writing, etc.
Freelancer - accounting services, data entry, programming, writing, etc.
Guru.com - accounting services, legal services, marketing, programming, writing, etc.
Odesk - software development, web development, and everything else.
Rent A Coder - software development
ScriptLance - software development, web coding, etc.
Asksunday - virtual/personal assistants (there are plenty of other services out there)
What are the top mistakes business owners make when
creating their marketing plan?
Some of the errors we make as business owners are subtle but can have devastating results. Below, I have listed a few to keep a look out for.
Not sticking to your marketing plan.
Small business owners sometimes forget that they spent hours crafting and defining a customized marketing plan. Once they are running their business, they just “wing it.” Don’t fall into that trap and setup exact dates when you review your plan and track results.
Lack of consistent branding in your promotional activities.
Your customers and clients want dependability and familiarity. So choose a logo, design, web page, and brand image that will encompass your unique selling propposition, consistently. You want to create a reputation with your future customers and that can only be obtained if your branding is consistent and recognizable.
Resistance to step on the technology and internet bandwagon.
We are living in a digital world now where websites and email services are critical to running a successful and credible small business. Some business owners, while having an extremely good business sense and management style, have a limited capacity for technological knowledge.
That’s not a problem because here is where outsourcing comes in handy again. Hire others to do your web design, IT services, and your other technological needs.
Going at it all by your “lonesome”, trying to operate a business completely isolated from other businesses and networks, is a guaranteed road to nowhere. We all function as part of a larger whole. So it is very important for
a growing small business to establish a good network of helpful and relevant business partners.
Thinking in WIN-WIN terms for all parties involved and joining forces with other businesses will result in increased sales and reduced costs. Good networking relationships with other business partners can be the difference between success and failure for the majority of new or established businesses.
How do I use market research in my marketing plan?
The market research we mean here is the research you need to do to define who your “perfect” client is and by perfect we mean a client that wants your product or service.
To find out who your perfect clients are, you must gather specific demographic and psychographic information about them.
Demographics are characteristics that define people who need what you sell.
Basically you are finding out who they are. Some characteristics of your potential customers are: gender, age, marital status, yearly income range, education level, family situation (children-no children), profession, or geographic market (city, state, country).
To properly develop your perfect client profile, you should first start with analyzing the clients you’re presently dealing with and who buy your product or services again and again. Demographics identify the prospects/customers who need what you sell.
Everybody needs to eat but who wants to eat plain bread all the time?
So, psychographics are characteristics that define a customer who wants what you sell. Here you are finding out how/what they think. Ask your existing clients questions like, why do you buy from me? What do you like the most/least about my business? And, what one thing would you love to see different or improved?
Discover the specific wants of these clients. From these wants derive your customer’s “Hot Buttons.” They are the problems, frustrations or concerns that matter most to your perfect customer. Try to define the top 3 Hot Buttons.
Demographics, psychographics and knowing what customers’ hot buttons are will enable you to create a match between a buyer and your product/service.
Only at this time are you able to create a specific marketing message and really participate in the conversation that goes on in your perfect customer’s mind.
Why use a “Blitz Campaign” for my local business?
A blitz campaign is an online advertising campaign in your local market with the goal to rank your website on the first page of Google within a short period of time, sometimes hours as opposed to weeks.
By using a specific combination of so called “social media” sites, your local business can dramatically increase visibility and the number of prospects.
Social media includes, but is not limited to, mobile phone apps, video sites, blogs, social networking, podcast sites and bookmarking sites.
Conventional means of advertising such as yellow pages, print media including newspaper are a lot less effective and don’t reach as many prospects as they used to. Most prospects nowadays are online or on the phone.
You need to be seen to sell and social media offers your business an unprecedented opportunity for being seen no matter what the economy is doing.
Social media lowers customer acquisition costs, builds your business reputation, grows your company’s visibility in the market and attracts more customers.
Investing in social media does require money but this investment is returned multiple times over if done correctly.
For more information take a look at www.BlitzCampaign.com.
What are the 5 fundamental principles of small business marketing that I need for my business?
As a recap here are the top 5 principles you want to include in your marketing activities.
1.) Always start with your client in mind, never your business Customer “wants” are the reason why you are in business.
Clients want their pains and problems solved. So are you incorporating that into your marketing?
As long as you use the Unique Selling Proposition (USP) guidelines we described earlier, you will hit their hot buttons, attract prospects and convert them to customers. In short, answer their question: “What’s in it for me?”
2.) Spend time finding your target market What you want is to market to people who happily pay for your product or service. Take the time, DO market research and apply the methods in Trick 17
to find your prospects’ hot buttons.
3.) Demonstrate value to your client, not the process Build your marketing around your USP and hot buttons. Demonstrate to them that you can solve their problem, frustration or pain, and you will have their attention.
Forget the “you” and the process of how your product or service works.
Remember they are not interested in your business but in what you can do for them.
4.) Always work on growing your network
One of the messages you can take away from reading this is that functioning as a one-(wo)man-show is a very inefficient modus operandi and definitely puts a ceiling on your business growth.
However, not many of us are born networkers. So, take baby steps first. Go to those BNI, Chamber of Commerce, Meet-up or trade show events and connect with people at your own pace.
Practice makes “easier” in this case - not perfect, because as a business owner you always learn to improve.
5.) Build long-lasting relationships with customers Needless to say that your clients will stay with you if you continuously provide them with valuable solutions to their problems. People like to buy from people they respect and trust.
As mentioned earlier, it takes multiple times more effort, time and money to acquire a new customer. “Repeat business” is the magic and very profitable phrase.
Obviously you do not want to harass or bombard them with sales pitches but provide them with continuous value, educating and suggesting how you solve their problems.
What are the best small business marketing resources?
Here are some valuable resources for finding answers to small business marketing questions:
marketing.about.com Marketing articles from About.com.
www.gallup.com They provide behavioral economic indicators worldwide.
This can come in handy when doing your market research described in question 17.
www.google.com/trends Google Trends shows the most popular current searches. This can also be useful when doing market research.
www.thegaryhalbertletter.com Newsletter archive from acclaimed copywriter Gary C. Halbert .
www.entrepreneur.com/marketing/ Marketing ideas for small businesses from Entrepreneur Magazine.
www.inc.com/marketing Marketing articles from Inc. magazine.
small-business-partnership.com Marketing insights and tips from local business owners.
Throughout this guide, you’ve learned methods to entice more customers to buy from your small business, crank out more profits and reduce your expenses.
However, none of the tricks you’ve learned will do you any good if you don’t put them into action.
That’s another mistake many business owners make with their small business.
They may read lots of information on how to build their business but then fail to implement anything. They give it some thought and consideration and think up plans and ideas, but then they get caught up in their day-to-day activities and all those plans fall by the wayside.
I encourage you not to let that happen to you.
Take the tricks you have learned to heart, and implement them. If you don’t think you have the time, make time! Set aside a certain amount of time each day to work strictly on the marketing side of your business. Make it a regular part of your working day.
As part of your marketing efforts, I’d like you to visit Small-Business-
Partnership.com for additional marketing information.
Together, let’s grow your small business!
If you can sense the great value that marketing partnerships offer to your business, you’re not alone. Consider making them part of your revenue growth plan by listening to www.myBusinessGrowing.com.