When we sit down with a new client, we usually start by asking them, “What do you think of when we say the word ‘marketing’?” Inevitably we hear answers like:
Hosting events at your business
Offering sales and coupons
Signage on your storefront and inside your facility
And they’re not wrong. Those are all pieces that may fit into your marketing strategy, depending on what your target demographic looks like. But there are probably a lot more elements affecting your brand and dictating your potential customers’ first impression of your business.
Here are 3 parts of marketing that you may be overlooking:
1. Opportunities to leverage your current customers.
The people who are already supporting your business are some of your best (and maybe least utilized) resources when it comes to marketing. Despite having so many new options out there for digital advertising and e-commerce, word of mouth is still the single most effective way to earn a new customer’s business. And your current customers are probably willing to help you.
Some of the ways you can leverage current customers to reach their connections are:
Ask for Reviews - Send out an email to your customers asking them to spend 30 seconds leaving you a positive review on Google and/or Facebook. You can create a custom Google link that will even pre-fill in a 5-star response. (the words ‘Google link’ should link to https://phoenixseolab.com/how-to-create-a-google-my-business-review-link-pre-filled-with-5-stars/). Depending on your business and what technology you have available, you may also be able to automate this process after a new customer’s first experience with you.
Bribes Work - Create a referral program that incentivizes your customers to send you new customers. And be generous. They’re sticking their neck out for you, and it costs you almost nothing other than the incentive itself, so get creative.
Ask for Opinions - Anytime you get someone to comment on your social media posts, it is MUCH more likely that their friends will see your post. So try posts that ask people for their opinion, or for suggestions. Get them engaged, and reap the benefits in reactions and followers. Example: If you sell clothing, post two items side by side asking ‘This or That’
Use Email Marketing to Upsell - Let’s say that you are a tree trimming business, and that you have customer emails for all the people who have hired you to trim their trees over the years. Sending a brief and image-driven email to those customers that educates them on tree health, issues to watch for, ways you can help them prevent potential harm to their trees can be a powerful way to “sell” them on another service you offer, but in a way that feels helpful and much less pushy than outright asking for an upsell.
2. Opportunities to learn from what you’re already doing.
Many business owners spend serious cash on their marketing and advertising. But an alarming number of those same entrepreneurs are just guessing and throwing money at different strategies hoping one stands out as being successful. Reality check… your customers probably won’t just voluntarily tell you where they heard about you UNLESS you ask them. When your secretary answers a phone call from someone interested in becoming a customer, the first follow-up question should sound something like, “Oh great! We are so glad you called. Where did you hear about us?” Not only should the question get asked, but the responses should be recorded somewhere for review every year, and probably even every quarter.
For example, we have a very forward-thinking veterinary practice on our list of brand management clients. They have mastered the process of tracking new client sources. Their staff uses a spreadsheet with different columns labeled with each possible referral source - their signage, facebook, word of mouth, referral from another client, phone book, etc. Then down the left side, they track those by the month so they can see if there were any influxes for one successful strategy over another based on the time of year we were trying different approaches.
There’s no right or wrong way to track the information. But you can’t learn from your experimentation if you aren’t asking the right questions. You’ll be glad you did it, so don’t put it off until later.
3. Your opportunities to upsell and earn loyalty.
For customers who are already spending time in your business or who have experienced your quality products and services, what are you doing to increase the number of interactions you have with that customer? What are you doing to increase the number of dollars they spend per interaction? Some of the best ways to affect change in those areas are:
Signage - For the customers who are already in your facility, are you maximizing your potential face time with them by using signage around the building to promote other products and services? Or can you offer an incentive for stocking up while they are there? If you are in a walk-in business, signage in front of your location can also be a powerful way to draw attention to your business. If you sell ice cream, putting humorous sayings on a marquis sign such as “Your Wife is Hot - She Wants Ice Cream” gets attention and probably gets more people through the door than something generic like “50 cents off ice cream.”
Thank You Notes - This seems like an obvious suggestion, but surprisingly very few businesses have thank you notes for new customers engrained in their processes for onboarding. A hand written note can go a LONG way in engraining that new customers’ first impression of your business, and chances are they may tell others about it or even post it on their social media accounts. Don’t do it for the wrong reasons, though. Genuinely thank them for their trust and loyalty, and include a personal detail that will let them know you are thanking them individually as opposed to a form letter that goes to everyone.
Your marketing strategy should include every possible way that people see or interact with your business, and incorporate the same personal touches that make YOU remember positive experiences. If you appreciate a follow-up call after an appointment, make sure your staff provides that to your customers. If you would appreciate a hand-written thank you note after a major purchase, figure out a way to provide that same warm fuzzy experience to your largest clients. If you keep your brand impression focused on serving others with humility, you WILL see a difference in your culture and your marketing results.