By Tim Reed, CEO of MYOB, Australia’s Largest Provider of Business Management Solutions.
If you’re trying to grow your business right now, then right now is the time for you to review how your business works, and how you’re looking to attract new customers.
In an increasingly competitive market place, you need to give your customers a reason to visit your store – whether it’s online or bricks and mortar. As a small business, you don’t have the luxury of a massive marketing and promotional spend. So you need to be clever in how you attract and retain your customers.
In November, MYOB partnered with ‘Shop Small’ – a widespread social movement to promote local small businesses. So, now is an opportune time to review where you are now and where you want to be in the future.
Understand what it is that makes your business special. What is your point of difference? Why should customers choose to spend their money with your business, when there are so many other choices? The more the business is about serving others and the less it is about you and your needs (easier said than done!), the better it will work.
Understand your customer
Create a mental image of a customer you would like to serve and use this image when you are creating marketing campaigns. Who are they? Where are they? What are their needs and motivations? How do they like to be communicated with? Try to connect with them in the way that best suits them and make sure that you direct your message to them – not just to the general population.
Depending on who your customer is, some methods will work better than others. Once you have a concrete mental image you will better be able to identify where they can be found and at what time. The better you can focus and direct your marketing efforts to those people most likely to actually pay for what you do, the better it will work.
A satisfied customer willingly spreads word-of-mouth promotion. One successful tactic for many businesses is starting a referral program for existing customers to bring in new customers to your business. Offer both the existing and new customer an incentive, such as a discount or gift, for being part of the referral program. Assess the ROI and you could very well be surprised.
Use social media websites to promote sales and giveaways, advertise new customer incentives and ask existing positive customers to discuss their satisfaction with your company publicly online. Take the time to connect with other businesses in your community and industry. Stay active. Keep your eyes and ears open and join the conversation when relevant. Online promotion doesn’t need to be expensive; there are numerous social media platforms available at your fingertips.
An essential element of any effective marketing campaign geared to long-term customers is a focus on information they need, presented in an easily digestible way that appeals to their desires – not an over-the-top sales spiel. Before anyone buys from you, they have to trust you. The first step to establish trust is to let people know that you know what you’re talking about.
Illustrate publicly how valuable your customers are to you. This does not mean thanking them 10 times or telling them how much you appreciate them – it means making it very easy for them to do business with you in every way you possibly can.