You will have an endless stream of companies offering to help you to market your business…, by helping you spend your money. And at some point in your business that is appropriate. For those of you starting out, there are a number of ways that cost zero or very little money
Email your data base. (You have one, don’t you?) If not, start one. Most newsletters and email newsletters go out every three to five months. And while you are not in relationship with your tribe, someone else is. I hope it is not your competition!
How to begin? Look at competitors and see what they are doing. Most are saying “buy our stuff”. Instead you can offer them value. Your buyers and potential buyers are on a journey. They are trying to decide, “do I buy this product or service category or not.” They are afraid of making a mistake. You can help by educating them on the industry, the product or service category, the risks, the rewards, AND why you are the best choice. Then they get to buy your product versus being sold your product.
Send out THANK YOU cards. No one else is doing it. Send Out Cards has built a multi-million-dollar business helping people stay consistently in touch. Why? because it delivers results.
Want to take it up another level? Pick up the phone and call your customer a few days after the purchase to ask, “How is it working? Are you happy?”
Your email signature: how often have you looked at the bottom of an email for a phone number? Isn’t that a great place for your Market Dominating Position, your book, your certifications? It is another place to show people how you add value.
Craig’s List, Thumbtack, Fivver, are all places where you can promote your business with little to no cost.
There really are countless ways to market and promote your business at little to no cost. More importantly, remember it is NOT where you put your message, IT IS YOUR MESSAGE. A variation of “I need customers” is not what you want to say and that is what most ad’s say. Connect with your buyers want, their problems, and your solutions.
If you are eager to grow your business and frustrated with lack of customers let’s talk.
Respond is different than react.
The world has changed, and I think we can now all agree that your buyer’s behavior has changed as well. So, the question is…” How will your business change?”
I can’t tell you how many people tell me they are dressing appropriately only from the waist up for Zoom calls. That is changing the clothing that people buy, and many people have shifted their purchases online.
People are not driving as much. What impact will that have on the regularly scheduled service that many shops rely on?
I think everyone is aware that restaurants are going to have to shift their model. Sit down dinners and real estate prices are going to eat away at margins. And this shift was coming before COVID. I remember a talk by the CEO of Red Robin, at Denver University, last year. She was talking about how they were exploring ways to ease the tension between declining dine in meals and rising delivery meals.
NOW is the time for innovation. That does not mean you need a big innovation lab or large investments. It means, put yourself in your customers shoes and ask, “How can I help them meet their wants in this difficult time?” (Wants are different than needs).
So, what does innovation look like?
- For my dentist, it is extended hours so they can meet the regulations required for social distancing.
- For a private dining club, early in the pandemic when everything was closed, it was offering their customers pick up of food and paper products like toilet paper and cleansers. (Their distribution channels were different than Kroger’s).
- For an auto mechanic, it was picking up, repairing, sanitizing and delivery of vehicles.
- For many local restaurant’s, communities helped them by blocking off streets. This allowed them to extend outdoor dining and volume.
What will you do?
- Do you want to add an e-commerce site now that your customers are not visiting your store like they did?
- Do you want to communicate how you have sanitized your restaurant, so people feel safe eating there?
- Do you need to go back to your marketing and make sure it is addressing your client’s NEW wants and desires? (They have changed.)
- Keep Marketing and Selling. Companies that pulled back in difficult times lost market share in every downturn.
- Be prepared but don’t panic. This too shall pass, just like the Y2K panic, the SARs Panic, and, The Bird Flu panic.
Get with your advisors and start exploring your options. You want a second opinion. If you don’t have an advisor, you can ask me a question at firstname.lastname@example.org. Don’t sit still and wait for this to pass. The market is evolving, you want to evolve with it.
If you are new in business like I was, you have probably read or listened to countless people that tell you the purpose of marketing is to make a sale. I remember that one of my first “sales” jobs had a title of Marketing Manager. People have a weird relationship with the word sales. Yes, it is important to sell. Without a sale, you don’t have a customer and without a customer you don’t have a business.
Now let me ask you, how do you like it when you feel you are being sold?
Most people don’t like it and they will actively resist it. What happens when, as a business owner, you change your approach to marketing from selling to educating?
The buyer does not want to make a mistake. Nor do they want to be sold something they don’t want.
When you can change your marketing into education, you help the buyer make their decision. Now you are partners on the buyer’s journey. You are helping them to learn how their problems can be addressed and how their results can be achieved.
That looks simple until you decide you are going to market to everyone. Marketing to everyone is really marketing to no one. You see, different people have different problems they want solved. To become really effective, you want to identify your target market. Your ideal customer. These are the people that resonate most with the problem you want to solve.
If you think back to the 1960’s, if you wanted Pizza you either drove to the Italian restaurant to sit down and eat or you went in and picked it up. Domino’s stepped back and surveyed the marketplace. They asked, “Is there an underserved need? How can we differentiate ourselves?”
They saw college kids, who are always hungry. Many did not have a car.
“What if we delivered?” They then created stripped down kitchens for delivery only and built them close to campus. They could then promise your pizza in 30 minutes or less.
Notice they did not say the best pizza. They said fast and hot in thirty minutes. They became the number one pizza company in the world with arguably not the finest pizza.
They did this by solving a specific problem (I want pizza fast without leaving the couch). Then they educated their buyer with advertisements all over town saying thirty minutes or less.
Ask yourself,” What are the questions my buyers typically have about my business or business category?” Write those down and answer them. Then ask, “What do I wish my buyers would ask?” Write those questions down and answer them. Now you have the basis for your marketing. As you use these questions and your answers in your marketing efforts, be, they at a networking event, a blog post, or an advertisement, you are now helping your buyer on their journey.
Speaking of journeys, The Profit Accelerator starts September 25th. This is a weekly meeting with other small business owners where you will have the chance to learn how to build the buyers journey, to craft your message so that you compel your buyers to learn more. Each week there is a new business or personal development fundamental. Each week as you execute on your fundamentals and goals your business will begin to transform. Consider a group of six successful business-people that are as committed to your success as you. To see if you qualify, schedule your call here.
Most entrepreneurs are doers. They get up and go do. They get the job done. And then they burnout, they get stuck, they are working harder than they ever did in a “job”. This is often because they do not schedule Time To Think (TTT). To self-reflect. To think about the business, the future, their history, and where they can make adjustments. I can hear you saying now, “Who has time to self-reflects. I’ve got stuff to do.”
Once you build this habit, you will find it to be the most valuable use of time, in terms of money, fulfillment, and ease of operation period… full stop.
Let me suggest a few ways to create this habit.
- Consider and experiment – to find what works for you. For some people it is when they are running, journaling, or weeding the garden. For me it is journaling. I free associate in my journal every morning and just write whatever comes out. This typically reveals what is lurking under my conscious thinking so I can address it.
good questions to get more focus
- What went well?
- What would I do differently? (This is not “What went wrong.”)
- What was I uncomfortable doing?
- What will I commit to doing moving forward?
- What was your process to pursue your goals?
- Commit to the time. I have a one-hour block of time on Sunday AM where I review the week. What worked, what did I get done? How did it work? What would I change? This week it is updating some slides in a presentation that I did not like the way they flowed. One hour might be daunting at first. Maybe commit to 15 minutes at the beginning of the day or the end of the day. I have some clients take just a moment before they cross a threshold to ask:
- What outcome do I want from this?
- How do I want them to feel?
- Who do I have to be?
Just asking these question’s shifts the way we interact with each other.
I can promise you that if you take this time on a regular basis to review your business, your progress, your obstacles, and your insights…Your business will be transformed.
On September 25th we launch the Profit Accelerators Circle. This is a committed group of small business owners that are out to transform their business. It is business fundamentals. It is execution and it is accountability. If you are ready to stop waiting to see how this Pandemic is going to play out and you are ready to create your future click here to see if you qualify for the program.
Customer service is important and can make or break your business. Consumers have less and less patience for lousy customer service and can easily get frustrated by waiting in long lines, punching endless buttons, or trying to get a live person on the line. Who thought CHAT was a good idea? Science has demonstrated that multi-tasking DOES NOT WORK. It delivers poor outcomes and actually impairs cognitive function.
If you want repeat business, you must ensure their experience meets and surpasses their expectation. When you do this, they will share it with their network. when you don’t they will also share it with their network.
Here are three (not so secret) secrets to good customer service. It helps when you decide what you want your customers to experience.
You are the leader of your business, so you need to have a clearly defined plan for your business and that includes customer service. Here are three main goals you want to consider:
- You want it to be easy for your customers to do business with you. You can do this with advertised discounts, kiosks, your website, and other technology-based programs to help them shop. However, if you are going to use technology, make sure you design it with human interaction (not just tasks) in mind. A poorly designed call tree will lose you customers fast. A well designed one will win them.
- Conducting business with you should be a warm and pleasant experience. Your staff should be knowledgeable, approachable, and patient. Make sure your staff can make decisions to solve customer problems. Your customers want to feel like they are getting a good value for their time and money. Perceived value goes beyond the price of the products and, in large part, the experience is more valuable than the product. You can get a steak in a number of places. Yet, the experience at Ruth Chris is different than the Golden Corral. To achieve this requires training, reinforcement, and accountability.
- Don’t just look at this as an expense to be minimized but an opportunity to optimize your customer experience. This shouldn’t be a question of expenses but making and keeping happy customers.
With these thoughts in mind, you also want to do a few things to make sure this idea sticks:
- Share your customer service vision with the rest of your team.
- Tie your incentive programs and bonuses directly to customer service.
- Track the level of customer service your staff is putting out. This is more than measuring call times, it is actually listening to the customer interactions.
- Know when you can ignore what your customers think that they want.
- Continuously focus on your goals.
Now that you know what you want, you can start thinking about how to meet those wants and create a positive customer service experience.
If you’re having a hard time deciding on what you want, the tools, resources and coaches in our GUIDED TOUR can help you define the wants and needs of your company in relation to customer service.