business-stand-out2

Make Your Business Stand Out

Your customers are exposed to over 5,000 messages every day. So how do you get through the clutter and make your business stand out – without doubling your marketing budget? The key is a strong USP or unique selling proposition. When you nail it, marketing is a lot more effective so you can spend less and get more.

The latest, innovative product or service – something that nobody else offers – is one way to create uniqueness. But it’s not the only way.  Service delivery, processes, people, technology, performance and other factors can help your small business stand out in the crowd. If you do it consistently well and tell people over and over again.

Determine What Makes you Unique

The best way to discover your uniqueness is to look at your business from the outside. When working through this with my clients, we start by answering the following questions.

What do you actually sell?  Think benefits, not features.

What are your core products or services? Think beyond highest sales volumes or those that are common for your type of business. Your products or services can differentiate you, so look at them closely.

Related: How to Diversify Your Products to Maximize Profit

Who are your key competitors?  Based on the benefits you deliver, consider actual competitors who do the same thing AND those who potentially deliver the same benefits with different products or services.  Since you compete for a share of the budget, this can be helpful.  

What are the perceived standards in your industry and other industries? Consider customer service, technology, product quality, sales and marketing. Your customers’ expectations are built from experiences with a lot of industries – not just yours.

What are some ‘claims’ about your products, services or business that you take for granted – and assume customers know about? Coors built their USP around their cold brewing process. While not unique in the industry, Coors was the first to actually tell people about it. And they still benefit from that message today.

Narrow Your Options

As you go through the process of brainstorming and answering these questions, ideas will pop into your head.  Write them down, no matter how silly they may appear at first glance. Use all the information to come up with a few options to consider.

Next do a little research with your customers. Bounce some options off them. Did they know this about you or your business?  Do they care?  Why or why not?  What does this claim say about your products, service or overall business?

Find something you do so well that you can guarantee it, especially if your industry has a reputation for doing this poorly.  Look for a process in your business that links your products or services to quality or performance or reduces risk.

Sometimes simple things, such as custom scheduling blocks to eliminate long wait times, can make you stand out.  You only need ONE.   Identify your claim to fame and make it the focal point in your communication to customers and prospects.

Related: Is Your USP Compelling to Those Who Matter?

Need another set of eyes to help you define your claim to fame? Let’s do it together. Call me at (856) 533-2344 to learn more or get started.
nurture prospects

5 Steps to Nurture Prospects and Grow Sales

When your business spends precious time and money on marketing, you expect to generate leads that convert to sales – now or in the future. So how you respond to leads is critical, especially the ones who aren’t ready to buy now.

Prospects buy when they are ready, willing and able. So you need a process to move them along – to follow up on leads and convert them into customers.  Whether you call it lead nurturing or sales management, how well you do this makes a difference in your sales results.

RelatedAre Your Customers Ready, Willing and Able to Buy?

Millions of small businesses waste time and money and regularly lose sales because they lack proper follow-up and a method to nurture prospects into customers.

5 Steps To More Sales Conversions

Have a System.  The best approach is a consistent one that details the steps from initial interest (lead) to conversion (sale) – in a logical, practical way.  Your process should incorporate three things:

  • How many touches are required to go from lead to sale. Depending on your business this will vary — but it is likely more than one or two!
  • What are the best methods to connect? Don’t rely on one thing. Combining calls, emails, ads, print and social media allows you to reach people in a variety of ways without being too intrusive.
  • How often should you connect? Don’t wear out your welcome by over-communicating. Seek balance in your communication.

Act Quickly. The best system won’t matter if you don’t respond to leads quickly.  Often the one who gets the business is the one who got there first.  Speed matters – so make it a priority.

Know the Source – and Do It Anyway.  Leads come from a variety of sources such as networking, referrals, website, search engines, direct mail and social media.  While it’s helpful to know the source, don’t take shortcuts based on the information or assumptions.  I see this often with referrals. Yes, they may be warmer leads but use your system to nurture them into customers. Be consistent.

Cultivate the Not-Quite-Ready.  This is where a lot of leads are lost.  A ‘no’ today doesn’t mean forever. If the prospect is a viable candidate in the future, have a plan to build on these relationships — so they think of you when the need is there. You already invested time and money to create sales opportunities. Why waste them? Here are a few things to make it work:

  • Capture leads. You can’t stay connected if you don’t have the contact information. Whether you use CRM software applications or contacts within your email system, a database for prospects is a must. The amount of detail you want to capture will vary based on the type of business and planned marketing efforts.
  • Educate in small chunks. Nurturing is a marathon, not a sprint.  Give potential buyers relevant information in small pieces. Think education, not selling – but do include a call to action for when they are ready.
  • Vary the formats.  People respond differently to communications. Don’t rely on one method – think diverse.  Use a combination of emails, newsletters, personal notes, articles and other content to move them through the sales funnel.
  • Plan your re-marketing.  These are not new prospects, so improve conversion with a series of communications that are designed to nurture and build relationships. Include them in your marketing activities. If you tap into technology for email campaigns, auto responder services, greeting cards and thank you messages – it’s easy and allows you to use various methods to stay connected.  Decide on the method, message, frequency, and timing then schedule it.  How else will it get done?

Track Results.  As I often remind clients — what we measure, we can improve. Know the numbers that drive your sales such as leads, conversion rates, click rates, etc. Establish goals for your sales-related metrics. Monitor how you are doing and take appropriate action.

While we all love prospects who are ready to buy now, many are not.  But with a little nurturing they will be in the future. Apply these principles and watch your sales soar.

New Monthly Article & Business Tools

For new business improvement articles, exclusive tools and insights on entrepreneurship, click here to subscribe to my monthly eNewsletter. When you do, I’ll also send you my free eBook, How to Build Profit Through Leverage.

marketing plan

8 Question Marketing Plan

Is revenue and profit growth a key objective for your business this year? Then a marketing plan is an essential tool. It provides the blueprint of what you will do and how you will do it.  And it’s not difficult. It’s simply a matter of answering these eight questions.   

Who are you trying to reach?

Whether you call it your target market or ideal customers, it’s the group of people who want or need your products or services – with the capacity to pay for them. Those you want to reach with your marketing efforts. Think small groups or niches, not the masses. Be specific. The more you know, the easier it is to speak to them – in a way that is compelling and effective.

Can you create a profile of your best customers? Whether you serve consumers or other businesses, think beyond basic demographics. What is important to them? What do they value or worry about? Why do they like doing business with you? If you are unsure, do a little research. Talk to some of your best customers – and see what patterns emerge.

How do you compare with competition?

Today’s buyers have a lot of choices and access to information. They also have personal experiences with a wide range of companies – inside and outside of your industry. As a result, customer expectations on quality, service, convenience and more are higher. How do you measure up in areas that are important to your customers?

If you are not sure, a simple SWOT analysis may help. What do they do well and not so well? Talk to customers, employees and suppliers to determine your strengths and weaknesses. Then you have some information to answer the next question.

Related: How to Use SWOT to Uncover Opportunities

What makes you unique? 

What do you do so well that you could potentially guarantee it? Do you do it better than others? Is it something your customers truly value? If so, turn this into your unique selling or value proposition. It’s the reason why your customers should choose to do business with you.

Remember, you only need one differentiation to stand out.  Here’s an example. When it comes to customer service, Chick-fil-A has consistently ranked high. Their claim to fame: their employees were rated among the most polite in their industry category. In other words, please and thank you, done consistently well, made them stand out – and their customers noticed.

What should you charge and why? 

Your marketing message should work with your pricing strategy. It relates directly to perceived value and is a factor in purchase decisions.  Don’t ignore this when developing your marketing plan.

Related: Pricing – Six Common Mistakes to Avoid

How will you reach potential customers? 

This is the substance of your plan – and often where most small businesses start.  Your promotional plan covers all your communications and dictates how you get the word out to prospects and customers. Ideally, it should combine a variety of tools – digital and print. Advertising, publicity, direct mail, social media, email marketing, promotional products and direct sales work well together.

In addition to integrating a variety of tools, consistency matters too. Whatever tools you select, determine the frequency and stick with it. It is better to do fewer tactics on a more consistent basis – than periodically doing a lot of different things. Looking for some ideas? Check out my 155+ profit building ideas.

How much will you spend and on what? 

A marketing budget serves two purposes.  It helps you determine what you can or cannot afford – and prioritize what you spend it on.  Since many small businesses have limited marketing budgets, this is vital.  And with technology today, some activities are more affordable than they were in the past.  Do a little research, don’t assume everything is out of reach.

What tasks do you need to complete to execute? 

Most marketing requires a series of tasks to complete. For each tool or tactic, list the critical tasks you need to do to get it done. Don’t forget to give yourself some due dates to keep you on track.

Here is an example. If you plan to do a direct mail campaign, you will likely include some of the following tasks: set objectives, budget and drop date, hire designer to create piece, write copy (or hire copywriter), develop mailing list, etc.

How will you track results?

When you invest your time and money on marketing, you will want to know how those efforts pay off. So, tracking results is important. Tracking will also help you determine what you can improve upon as you move forward.

The metrics you choose will depend on the marketing tools you use and the call-to-action response you are trying to achieve. Here are some common ones to consider: new leads, website visits, social media likes, new social media connections, CTA response rates, requests for quotes, sales appointments or calls, new customers and sales conversion rates.

Surprised that I included some sales metrics? You shouldn’t be. Good marketing should create leads, calls and traffic.  But it should also smooth the way for sales – which is the ultimate goal right? So, make sure your sales process is also up to the task. Because leads that go unconverted are simply a waste of time and money.

Ready to Put Your Business on the Path to Success?

Would another set of eyes, ongoing support and accountability from an expert help you take your business to a new level of success? Then let’s explore the possibilities with a complimentary consultation. It’s a chance to get to know each other, discuss your goals and the obstacles that hold you back. Together we can determine if there is a good fit between your needs and my services.

To learn more or schedule an appointment, call me at (856) 533-2344 or drop me an email Joan@HybridBizAdvisors.com

drive business growth grow revenue

The #1 Rule To Drive Business Growth

If growing your business and attracting new customers is a priority for you, here’s the #1 rule you need to follow.  Never let a day go by without doing at least one marketing activity.

Unfortunately many small businesses only focus on marketing when time allows, which rarely happens, or when forced into it when sales decline or the pipeline dries up.  Like most things in business, success comes from consistency – doing the right things each and every day.

Now you may be thinking, “I barely have time to do what I do, how do I add marketing into each and every day”?  Well here is the key – break down activities into small tasks that can easily be done in 15-30 minutes AND block the time on your calendar to do them.

Quick Hits to Grow Revenue

What can you accomplish in just 15 minutes?  A lot when you stop viewing it as JUST 15 minutes – and eliminate the distractions, busy work and time wasters in your day.  Here’s just a few things you can do when you plan your time and make business growth a priority:

  • Initiate new contact request on Linked-In
  • Write a few notes or cards to people you met at an event
  • Call a customer (or two) to request a testimonial or online review
  • Write a blog post
  • Make a ‘how is it going’ call to customers – put that database to work!
  • Call to schedule lunch or a meeting with a current or potential power partner
  • Post an update or share a tip on social media
  • Reach out to a Linked-In connection with a private message
  • Contact a former customer – any new opportunities?
  • Ask or answer a question on social media (groups)
  • Make a follow-up call to prospects in your sales funnel
  • Make a ‘survey’ call to customers or prospects – for feedback and ideas
  • Set up Google Alerts to stay abreast of industry or competitor changes
  • Investigate industry or business groups – and schedule attendance at an upcoming event

So what about all those ‘bigger’ marketing activities – a direct mail campaign, overhauling your website or implementing a new marketing strategy?  Even if you outsource the project, there are tasks that YOU will need to do.  This is where breaking down tasks into smaller pieces can really pay off.

For example, you want to build a better Linked-In sales strategy — to generate more high quality leads. It will certainly take more than 15 minutes to update your profile, do some company or industry research, and create compelling templates.  If you wait until you have a few extra hours to tackle this, it will likely remain incomplete!

So break it into smaller chunks – and work on pieces for 15-30 minutes a day.  Over time, you can complete the project — while still handling your other responsibilities.

Remember, if you want to see consistent results, you need to take consistent action.  So make marketing activities, big and small, something you do every day!

Ready to Put Your Business on the Path to Success?

Would working with a business coach help you grow both revenue and profit? Then let’s explore the possibilities with a complimentary consultation. It’s a chance to get to know each other, discuss your goals and the obstacles that hold you back. Together we can determine if there is a good fit between your needs and my services.

Call me at (856) 533-2344 to learn more or schedule an appointment.

Email Marketing

Email Marketing: 7 Ways to Build Relationships and Get More Customers

With the so much emphasis on social media, many believe digital newsletters and email marketing are less valuable as a marketing tool. I disagree.

When done properly, email marketing can complement other online and traditional marketing tactics. Most email platforms offer options for automation, landing pages, integration with e-commerce and list segmentation. So it’s an effective and affordable way to generate new business and keep current customers engaged and buying more.

Whether you want to stay connected with customers, build your reputation as an expert or generate leads and sales for your business, success (a.k.a. results) with email marketing is in your reach. Here are a few things to consider, so you get results.

How to Get More From Email Marketing

Build a permission-based list. Customers and prospects that choose to receive your emails are a goldmine for small businesses. Make it easy for people to sign-up by including a ‘join our mailing list’ option on your website, blog, email signature, etc. Invite people you meet at events to join. Invite customers who visit your location to join. Make building your list a priority.

Deliver what you promise. People sign up based on what you communicate: the value and the frequency.  If you promise tips and articles, include them. If you commit to specials or savings, offer them. If you promise something free, make it easy to get it. If they expect something monthly or weekly, be consistent. And remember, more is not always better. Set the expectations and deliver what you promise. Otherwise, people will unsubscribe or not open your emails.

If you use email marketing for multiple purposes, allow people to choose what they wish to receive. Most email marketing platforms allow for options or subscriber preferences. For example, a reader may sign up for your monthly newsletter only, everything you send or something in between. They have control and you have readers who want what you send.

Start with a compelling ‘subject’ line AND headline. You need both. The subject line get’s it opened, the headline get’s it read. Too often, the subject line is almost an afterthought. Give it the same attention you give a headline – make it compelling and recognizable. One way to do this is to include your company name such as ’10 Tips for Better Living from Company XYZ’ or ‘Upcoming Events from John Smith’. If you do a monthly newsletter, give it a name and include it in the subject line each month. The headline in your email is a key to getting people to read it and works the same as other print advertising. Make it benefit focused – what’s in it for them or why should they read more?

Stay True to Your Audience. Be clear on your target and always write with them in mind. Since most email marketing lists begin with customers, you should have a good idea of who they are, what challenges they face, what they like and dislike and why your products and services are the best choices.

As your list grows, you may have less intimate knowledge about your audience. That’s okay because you can assume they are looking for the same value and information. Why else would they sign up? So stay true to your target and you’ll enjoy greater success with your email marketing.

Make Content Count. If you are writing promotional copy, keep it concise and make sure your message – value/benefits, offer, and call to action – is clear and understood. Bullet points and sub-headlines work well. Write copy in the present tense, not passive voice. Avoid weak words like can, may, and maybe since they dilute your message.

If you write newsletters, make sure the topics are relevant and timely for your audience. Select topics that tie-in with what is happening in the news, in their lives or in their business – at this time. Include links to your website, blog, special offers, or other resources – to create additional traffic.

Encourage sharing. Ask readers to share directly or via social media. It’s a easy way to get your message to others, grow your list and generate additional leads.

Include Customer Quotes. Adding a brief but compelling customer quote creates a third-party endorsement and added credibility to your email marketing. Make the customer ‘real’ to your readers by including the customer’s name, city, company (if applicable) or even a picture. If you have testimonials on your website or online reviews, include a link and invite your audience to check them out.

It’s Measurable & Actionable

Email marketing is highly targeted, low-cost and measurable. Most programs include reports to show you how many subscribers opened, clicked on links to your website or other URLs, and bounces.

But here’s the best part. You can get a list of WHO opened and then clicked through to learn more. It’s actionable. You can follow-up or send additional information to create more sales opportunities.

Ready to Put Your Business on the Path to Success?

Would working with a business coach help you take your business to a whole new level? Then let’s explore the possibilities with a complimentary consultation. It’s a chance to get to know each other, discuss your goals and the obstacles that hold you back. Together we can determine if there is a good fit between your needs and my services.

To learn more or schedule an appointment, call me at (856) 533-2344 or drop me an email Joan@HybridBizAdvisors.com

Customer loyalty

Customer Loyalty: 7 Secrets to Create Raving Fans

“A business absolutely devoted to service will have only one worry about profits – they will be embarrassingly large.” Henry Ford’s words reinforce the importance of customer service, satisfaction, and customer loyalty in your business. So what are you doing to create raving fans – and why is this important?

Why Create Raving Fans?
  • Loyal customers spend more and buy more frequently.
  • Customer satisfaction is linked to customer retention.
  • It’s cheaper to retain profitable customers than acquire new ones.
  • Customers are willing to pay more when service is better than the competition.
  • Happy customers refer others, write reviews and sing your praises every chance they get.
  • Unhappy customers tell anyone who will listen about their negative experience – and social media makes this really easy!
7 Secrets to Improve Customer Service

Get Feedback. Encourage and welcome customer input about how you can improve. Provide a method and process to get constructive comments and suggestions. Customers can be your best advocate and your best source of learning. They are knowledgeable about competitors and what they do or don’t do well. Remember, you cannot fix or improve something if you don’t know it’s broken.

Treat Employees Well. Appreciation starts at the top. Your team will treat customers the way you treat your team. Do you greet them when they arrive? Do you thank them? Do you listen to their concerns and ideas? If you take care of your team, your team will take care of you.

Handle Customer Complaints. No matter how good you are, things can and will go wrong. Identify the source of the top 5-7 complaints, even if they only occur periodically. Then develop a procedure to handle them. Don’t forget to include guidelines and limits of authority so your people, who actually deal with customers, can resolve the majority of complaints without going to the boss! Keep in mind, complaints, if handled well, can actually build loyalty with customers.

Track and Reward Customer Satisfaction. If customer satisfaction is really a priority in your business, demonstrate this to your team and customers. Develop a method to measure it, set goals for improvement and reward the team when the goal is accomplished. Keep it simple.

And here’s another plus. If your documented customer satisfaction score is 95% or better, you now have a great message for use in marketing. It sure beats the ‘we deliver great service’ message so many businesses like to put out there.

Train Your Team. Customer service skills, like technical or sales skills, can be developed and improved with training. While most businesses train new employees, existing team members need ongoing training and development too. In addition to better service, employee training is linked to improved employee retention and satisfaction – a big benefit in a competitive labor market.

Document Your Critical Systems. Too often the source of dissatisfaction or perceived poor quality is tied to your processes. Take a look at your procedures, from initial customer contact through billing and collection. Document what gets done. I guarantee you will find gaps in consistency and opportunities for improvement. Systems put money on the bottom line by reducing re-works, returns or callbacks – a big satisfaction driver.

Set Expectations. In marketing and sales, a  can-do attitude is important, but only if you can deliver what you promise each and every time. Set the right expectations with customers and work to make it happen consistently. Remember the old saying, better to under promise and over deliver!

Ready to Put Your Business on the Path to Success?

Would working with a business coach help you take your business to a whole new level? Then let’s explore the possibilities with a complimentary consultation. It’s a chance to get to know each other, discuss your goals and the obstacles that hold you back. Together we can determine if there is a good fit between your needs and my services.

To learn more or schedule an appointment, call me at (856) 533-2344 or drop me an email Joan@HybridBizAdvisors.com

marketing purpose

What Is Your Marketing Purpose?

As a business owner, you have a lot of marketing choices. But what you choose and how you use them will ultimately drive success. While cost and ROI will always play a role in your marketing decisions, don’t overlook your marketing purpose and integration.

Marketing has many purposes. From creating awareness and building relationships to generating new sales or repeat business. Depending on your marketing purpose, some tools work better than others. And when you combine various tools, through integration, you have a better recipe for success.

Here are a few commonly used small business tools to demonstrate this point.

Social Media | Organic versus Paid

Social media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram and YouTube are popular with small businesses. They are good for sharing things that others want to re-share – and that’s the key. Photos, infographics, local events, helpful tips and good news posts can help you stay connected and reach some new people.

If you are using social media as a free or low-cost method to reach lots and lots of new customers, you may be disappointed. Most social platforms rely on ads or premium subscriptions for revenue, so your reach is limited (by design) unless you pay to boost the posts, display ads or sponsor messaging. Promotional messages and special offers need a boost to perform well. The good news – when done right, paid social media is an affordable, effective way to reach more of your targeted prospects.

Tip:  When it comes to content and platforms, quality beats quantity every time. More is not always better. Choose the platforms that work best for your business then deliver quality information – stuff that is relevant to your customers.

Email Marketing | The Ultimate Stay Connected Tool

Your permission-based email list is an asset! It’s comprised of customers and prospects who said YES and want to hear from you. So, it’s a great tool for staying connected and building relationships that may create sales now or in the future.

Email marketing is flexible and affordable. With a variety of platforms like Constant Contact, Mail Chimp, and iContact, it’s also easy to keep your name and message in front of potential buyers. For helpful tips, check out my article, 7 Ways to Build Relationships with Email Marketing.

While consistency and good content are important, the size and quality of your list is a key to success. The bigger the list, the better the opportunity. So, put a lot of effort into building your list.

Use your website, social media, and sales or service teams to help grow your list. Give customers and prospects a reason and make it easy for them to say yes. Then deliver what you promise – relevant information.

Website | For Questions and Information

Good marketing gets attention and creates interest. But it hardly ever provides all the information someone needs to make a decision. So where do people go to get more information? Some may call but most will go to your website.

SEO and other marketing will certainly drive people to your site. So about us, services and contact information are helpful and expected. But you may be missing opportunities if you rely on these alone.

Blogs can answer common questions, provide updates and deliver relevant information.  Frequently Asked Questions – with simple answers – can also do the trick. Case studies and white papers allow you to demonstrate your expertise with problem-solution type information. Testimonials, online reviews, and certifications can offer proof of expertise.

Is your website the go-to place for questions or information prospects need? Here’s what you should consider:

  • What questions do prospects commonly ask during the sales process? Write them down and create clear (brief) answers.
  • What is the best way to share this information? Would a page with FAQ’s do the trick or should you create a blog post (or series of them) to answer the questions?
  • Do customers look for proof of your expertise? If so, case studies, white papers, testimonials, online reviews, and certifications can help you deliver. Make it easy for customers to find them.

Direct Mail | The Forgotten Tool

With so much emphasis on digital marketing, direct mail is almost an afterthought. When used with other tools, digital or media, direct mail helps reach new customers. It can be highly targeted and there’s a lot less direct mail competition today.

Whether you want to drive people to your website to learn more or call to schedule an appointment or get a quote, direct mail can deliver more bang for your buck when used with other tools. To get more customers, check out the article, 10 Direct Mail Tips.

A Final Thought

To get more sales and profit from your marketing efforts, build a plan with purpose and integration in mind.

It all starts with your marketing goals. Ideally, your marketing should accomplish three things:  generate new leads, nurture unconverted leads in your pipeline and create repeat business from customers.  Budget funds to do all three – with consistency.  Then, choose the right tools to support each purpose.

Ready to Put Your Business on the Path to Success?

Would working with a business coach help you take your business to a whole new level? Then let’s explore the possibilities with a complimentary consultation. It’s a chance to get to know each other, discuss your goals and the obstacles that hold you back. Together we can determine if there is a good fit between your needs and my services.

To learn more or schedule an appointment, call me at (856) 533-2344 or drop me an email Joan@HybridBizAdvisors.com

 

LI customer investments

Customer Investments – How To Do It Right

Make Your Customer Investments Pay Off

Your customers are your source of revenue, so it makes sense to invest money into them. But before you put a plan in place to attract, convert and retain customers, here are a few things you should consider to make your customer investments payoff.

#1 – Look Beyond Satisfaction

Customer satisfaction is certainly an indicator of customer repurchase intentions. Improvements can reduce churn and create new business through referrals. So, it makes sense that businesses invest in this area. But even satisfied customers are not created equal as it relates to profitability. Understand why customers are satisfied. Some factors that impact both satisfaction and profitability include brands, products/services, buying experience, differentiation – and of course, price.

Satisfaction and profitability are not mutually exclusive. If a customer is only satisfied when you give them special deals, do you want them? What about those who pay full price but demand so much that they offset the revenue they provide? Some customers simply can’t be profitably satisfied. So why make the investment in them? Invest resources in your profitable customers.

#2 – Focus on the Lifetime Value of the Customer

How much you invest to acquire a new customer or retain them will vary. But you need to think beyond the most recent or first transaction. Consider instead what you expect to earn from customers on an ongoing basis.

This long-term view considers what products or services they buy, how often and for how long. Seek to understand your customers’ value. When you do, you can look for ways to improve it and decide how much you will spend to acquire and retain customers.

Related:  What Are Your Customers Worth

#3 – Budget and Plan for Retention Too

Marketing costs are typically focused on new business generation efforts. While important, a portion of your marketing budget should be allocated toward nurturing and retaining customers. When you consider lifetime value, it’s a good decision. Bonus: It’s a lot cheaper to retain a customer than to acquire a new one!

Imagine if you took 10% of your marketing budget and used it for engagement and retention? Depending on your industry, these areas come to mind: service, support, and account management. But extra touches and thoughtful gestures are equally important.

How are you going to keep your customers engaged? This is where the plan comes in.  Create a variety of retention strategies or tactics to implement throughout the year.  How often you do it will likely depend on your industry and clients. Get creative. Stand out. Here are a few ideas to get you thinking….

  • Pick up the phone and check in with a customer. Lunch, golf or coffee optional.
  • Create a blog to educate and empower customers.
  • Remember special occasions with birthday or holiday cards. It’s the thought that counts.
  • Turn fast service into quality and complete service. Customers will view you as courteous and helpful.
  • Email special offers just for customers. It’s not special if everyone gets it!
  • Surprise them! Little, kind gestures make an impact. A client left a Hershey kiss with their invoice. Low cost, but memorable.
  • Send postcards for reminders. With so much emphasis on email and text, snail mail gets noticed.
  • Say thank you with a personal, handwritten note.
  • Build a social community online. Choose the platform that is best for your business and customers.
  • Use white papers and eBook guides to demonstrate expertise. Be a resource for your customers.

Remember, nothing happens until you take action. So, decide what you will do and how often you will do it. Then, schedule it so it gets done!

#4 – Track Retention Rate Over Time

What we measure we can celebrate or improve! Do you want to know if your customer investments are paying off? Your customer retention rate, over time, will tell you that.

You can calculate the retention rate for any period you choose: weekly, monthly, quarterly or something else that is relevant to you.  Pay attention to the trends over time! To calculate, you need to know the following:

Retention Rate Formula: ((CE-CN)/CS)) X 100

  • CS – number of customers at the start of period
  • CN – number of new customers during the period
  • CE – number of customers at the end of period

Let’s do the math with a simple example. 

You started the first quarter (January 1) with 200 customers [CS]

You ended the first quarter (March 31) with 250 customers [CE]

During the first quarter (Jan 1 – Mar 31) you acquired 65 new customers [CN]

Let’s plug them into the formula: ((CE-CN)/CS)) X 100

250 – 65 = 185;    185/200 = .925;    .925 x 100 = 92.5

Your retention rate for the period is 92.5%

#5 – Monitor Satisfaction

If you spend money to acquire and keep customers, it makes sense to get feedback and monitor customer satisfaction. Surveys allow you to do this. When done right, they help you quantify the quality in your business – and support your investments.

When done by phone, they allow you to stay in contact with customers, identify and fix mistakes, identify possible problems (before they become major issues) and request testimonials, reviews, and referrals. Remember to apply item #1 above when you consider changes or improvements in your business – rely on feedback from ideal, profitable customers!

Related:  5 Reasons Why Surveys Should Be on Your To-Do List.

Customer acquisition and retention are important for any business. Planning how you will do both will save you time and money. Incorporating the five items above will help you make better decisions.

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mktg strategies

Choosing the Best Marketing Strategies

With over 75 different ways to generate leads, is it any wonder that many small businesses get overwhelmed with all the possibilities? Yet choosing the right or best marketing strategies to promote your business is a key to getting more customers – and doing it profitably.

What marketing strategies have worked for me in the past? While not a guarantee, past performance can be a good indicator of future success. Remember to consider both the number of leads and the quality of leads these efforts produced. Some strategies may produce poor leads or price shoppers, but not sales. Others produce fewer leads, but more quality sales.

7 Questions To Choose The  Best Marketing Strategies

What products or services do I want to promote? As a small business, your marketing needs to produce sales, not just awareness. So it’s important to select the right products or services to promote, then select strategies that work for that product or service. Avoid trying to sell everything to everyone with your marketing since that is a recipe for failure – and costly.

How do my target customers like to give and receive information? Do they prefer communication in-person, by phone, email, snail mail, online, or social media? For most small businesses, this depends on what information you are providing and typically includes multiple methods.

How many contacts do I actually need to build relationships and create sales for my business? Typically, businesses require seven or more contacts or business encounters in order to create awareness, build a relationship and create a sale. For higher priced services, where prospects may perceive more risk, the number of contacts may be greater. So build a variety of possible touch-points and deliver the same message consistently.

How can I get existing customers to keep buying, buy more or buy more frequently? Many small businesses focus their marketing on generating new customers and ignore their existing customer base. Current or past customers offer a goldmine of opportunity, but only if you market to them. Did I also mention that it is a lot cheaper to market to existing customers who already know and like you?

How much time and money can I invest consistently? Marketing strategies have both a time and money component. Some, like networking and social media, are free or low-cost but consume a lot of time. Others, like direct mail or advertising, require a higher money investment but little time. The key is to balance out your time and money investments so you can do marketing consistently throughout the year.

What do I like and what am I good at? Let’s face it, nothing happens until you take action and implement the strategy. So it makes sense that you consider this point when putting together your plans. Avoid building a plan with a lot of strategies you dislike or struggle with. You simply won’t do them. Either delegate or outsource the implementation to someone who does it well, or get some help and learn how to do it effectively. It is amazing how we like to do what we are good at, we’re in our comfort zone. Recognize this and integrate uncomfortable strategies a little at a time, and make the commitment to do them.

How do I systematize my marketing so it gets done easily, effectively and profitably? Once you have decided on what you want to do, create the campaign, implement it, monitor it, modify it and document it! Look for ways to make it easy, repeatable and more effective the next time. When your marketing takes less time and effort and still delivers the return on investment you want, you will find it’s not so overwhelming. You may actually grow to like it!

Ready to Put Your Business on the Path to Success?

Would working with a business coach help you take your business to a whole new level? Then let’s explore the possibilities with a complimentary consultation. It’s a chance to get to know each other, discuss your goals and the obstacles that hold you back. Together we can determine if there is a good fit between your needs and my services.

To learn more or schedule an appointment, call me at (856) 533-2344 or drop me an email Joan@HybridBizAdvisors.com

sales marketing up-down

5 Ways to Avoid Peaks and Valleys For Better Sales Results

Do your sales results look like a roller coaster? High spikes followed by steep declines? Here are five ways to avoid peaks and valleys for better sales results.

Set Goals — Without clearly defined goals, you will achieve very little. Since your sales success directly impacts your personal income, this is always a good place to start. Ask yourself how much you want to earn – then how much you need to sell to achieve this income.

Don’t stop with sales or revenue goals. Since results come from taking action, set some activity goals — how many calls, meetings, proposals, events do you need to achieve your sales objectives? Break them down into daily, weekly or monthly goals as appropriate – and focus!

Be a Prospector — While your website, advertising and other marketing efforts will send leads your way, you must be willing to generate some of your own – by prospecting. Put a system in place to regularly find new customers through referrals, networking, social media, past customers, etc. Build and maintain your database – your pipeline of current and future opportunities. Don’t wait for leads to come to you – go get them!

Qualify Before You Invest — Qualifying prospective customers is crucial to managing your time and getting more from your efforts. We have all had situations where we invested a lot of time and other resources trying to sell to someone who will never buy, for whatever reason.

Your success here starts with being clear on your ideal targets — those who need and value what you sell and have the ability or authority to buy now or in the future. Without clarity, every prospect looks like an opportunity.  Be clear on what you want, screen out what you don’t and watch your sales improve. Do you have 4-5 good questions to help qualify customers? You should.

Use a Sales System — People buy from those they know and trust, so building relationships is an important part of sales. But relationship building in business and in life takes time. For most people, it won’t happen with a five-minute phone call or a brief conversation at an event.

A system is the best way to ensure a consistent approach to nurture leads and build relationships – from the initial point of contact to the eventual sale. Depending on the business, it may take a week or months, a few contacts or a lot of them. Use your past experience to select what works best for you, then be consistent. Stay connected and choose methods that appeal to your targets. I recommend a combination of methods, including phone, email, mail or social media. Linked In is a must for sales professionals – so make it part of your sales system.

Follow up — Follow up is a key to converting more prospects to customers AND getting customers to buy more. So why do so many salespeople fail to do this or give up after one or two attempts? When you consider that most sales are made after seven or more contacts, the gap is obvious. No need to hound prospects. Just follow-up until you get a decision – yes or no. Be relentless with your follow-up and your sales will improve.

Follow-up is not just for prospects.  Incorporate a system for customers too! It is the first step to the next sale or referral. Whether you mail a thank you card note, call to determine satisfaction with a recent transaction,  or provide them with a token gift, your follow-up after the sale can pay big dividends.

Sales don’t just happen, they require effort, persistence, and consistency. So try integrating or improving these five elements into your sales efforts and get off the sales roller coaster.

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