1 | Email marketing
Like many business owners you spend a great deal of time attending to your customers, because after all, they are an integral part of your business. But do you put your list of clients to use for you? For many small business owners this is a large untapped resource with a huge revenue potential. In Canada you have the opportunity to contact anyone who has inquired to you within the last year, and anyone who has purchased from you within the past two years. This is a great opportunity for upselling, repeat business, selling maintenance packages, promoting friends and family promos or simply just promoting yourself. If you’re not currently collecting email addresses from your customers, we highly recommend you start!
2 | Get social
We hear it all the time “I don’t know how to do social media”. That’s perfectly OK, not everyone does, but many of your customers do, and what do we do if we need a new roof but don’t know how to do it ourselves? Hire someone who can do it for us! No matter how large or small your marketing budget is, social should be included. And believe it or not it’s not as daunting as it may seem. Even simple regular Facebook and Instagram posts can help boost your presence, because after all, both Facebook and Instagram are in fact search engines themselves! So get posting and don’t forget your hashtags!
3 | Be available
I can’t count how many times I picked a different company because I either couldn’t reach their support, or it was too hard to find information. Don’t bury your contact info, display it loud and proud, and if you want to take it a step further, install a chat function on your site. Sometimes the difference between a sale and no sale is the answer to one simple question, delivered in a timely manner. In fact, chat has become so commonplace now I’m almost surprised when I encounter a company without it. Don’t worry if you aren’t (or don’t want to be) available 24/7. You can configure your chat many different ways so that even if you aren’t available, you are capturing that customer’s information.
4 | Current drivers
What are your current revenue drivers? You think you know but do you really? Think about including a poll with receipts so you can establish how your customers found you, then consider focusing your marketing efforts to those areas. If off the street walk-ins drive business, consider hiring a flyer person, if Google is the main driver, perhaps some organic SEO work or pay-per-click. Once you feel like you’ve exhausted those avenues, move on to the next best driver.
5 |Hands-free marketing
We get it, you can’t do everything all at once, and marketing has become this giant umbrella term that encompasses so many different areas that it can be really overwhelming for many business owners. This is when automated campaigns can really help alleviate some of the load. Things like re-targeting ads (pushing ads to people who have visited your site before), and cart recovery emails (automatically dispatching an email when someone abandons their online shopping cart) require nothing but setup and can help keep your business in the forefront of the consumers mind (and inbox)
6 | Research your competition
It can be hard to step out of your business owner shoes and into that of the consumer. One of the best places to start is to Google the service you provide and see what turns up. With any luck you’re right up there on page 1 beside your competition but knowing who they are and what they are doing well (and not doing well) will help you be better at what you do. Don’t forget to read their reviews too!
7 | Cultivate returning customer relations
Existing customers are your best bet to increase your sales and scale up. They are an instrumental part of small business growth because it takes significantly less effort to retain them compared to acquiring new ones. It is also a more cost-effective method and can help you save valuable resources.
8 | Seeing is believing
Did you know only 49% of small business owners have a growth plan? Olympic athletes don’t just say “I’m going to win gold”. They break down all the steps they need to reach to make winning that gold all the more likely. Most business owners tell us “we want more business” but what does that mean and how do you get there? Does it mean even business all year round? Does it mean having a lineup on Saturday nights out the door, does it mean booking into next season? Establish your specific goals, and then list the steps needed to reach those goals. When you’re done, put it up in your office/kitchen/bathroom/fridge, wherever you need it so you can visualize the path to your success. Now start checking off those to-dos!
9 | Google reviews
In this day and age, the all mighty review is critical for business growth. Bad reviews can turn away potential customers, as can having little to no reviews. Driving good quality reviews should be on every business owner’s list. There are many ways to coax customers into giving you reviews:
- Include a link in the footer of your email asking for reviews
- Offer customers a % off in exchange for a review
- Run a promotion to give away an item to a lucky reviewee and be sure to tell all your past customers about the promotion
- Put a sign up on the inside of your door asking for a review so a customer sees it upon exiting
- Ask for a review in your invoices or email newsletter footers
- Include a link to reviews directly from your site
Do you have negative reviews? There are ways to help ease the sting of a bad review. First ensure the customer is in fact a customer. Sometimes people review the wrong business or location by accident. If they aren’t a past customer, you can petition Google to take down the review. If they are a customer, always reply publicly to the review. It shows potential customers that you care what your customers think and shows you are attentive. Who knows, the person may even edit their review after you reach out them.
10 | Referrals
Referrals are wonderful. Do a great job, customer tells a friend. Boom, another sale. Sounds great doesn’t it? American Eagle did a superb job of this in their Aerie Real campaign. They knew women were tired of seeing airbrushed lingerie and swim models, so they vowed to use ‘real’, unedited women in all of their marketing and on their website. They advertised that customers use #aeriereal on their pictures wearing Aerie clothing and customers could submit their photos to the website to be one of the images you see when viewing an article of clothing. That is free marketing 101. You’ve made your customer happy, you have free images of people of all sizes for your site, and you also have them spreading the word for you, for free. Sometimes simply having a great product or service isn’t enough to elicit a referral, and that’s OK too. Offering incentives to current customers can certainly help, but making it really easy for them is always the goal. Leave a few magnets or business cards at service calls or ask if you can put a sign on the lawn for a specific savings. Waive cover charges if a customer “checks in” to your establishment on Facebook or take some money off someone’s monthly subscription for every referral they provide. There are lots of ways to elevate referrals, so get creative!