Marketing Tips (as seen in the Bunbury Chamber Commerce & Industries news)
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Marketing graduates around the world are well versed in the “Four P” principles of marketing: Product, Place, Price and Promotion. Tragically for your business though, often the fifth and most import P is overlooked.
People. If you don’t know who your customers are you won’t know how to reach them. In fact, you’re most likely pouring your advertising budget down the drain. This is bad (unless you’re a plumber).
There are simple ways to learn who your customers are and what they want. One way is to build a small survey into your daily routine when dealing with customers and log the answers for analysis.
Ask your customers questions to determine how they found your business, why they chose your business over your competitors, and whether or not they will return.
These simple questions give you a valuable insight for your marketing plan.
You will know where to advertise to get the best return for your dollar. You may be surprised to learn the one, key reason your customers came to you instead of your competitor. And, if your customers don’t intend to return, you will know which areas of your business need attention to fix bad impressions.
Use Complaints to Build Business
What is your reaction if a customer complains to you about your business? Do you roll your eyes and apologise? Do you refund the money with a sulky grunt? Or do you say hip-hip-hooray, zippidee-doo-daa?
The savvy business owner thanks the customer and rewards them for their honesty. The switched-on business person demonstrates they have listened to the complaint by refunding the money plus ten percent!
Why? Because that customer has just saved you from a tarnished reputation that would repel new customers and prevent your business from growing.
A disgruntled customer who doesn’t complain to you has got to complain to someone. It’s human nature to complain, after all. If your customer walks away and grizzles to ten friends instead of you, this could spell disaster for you.
Those ten friends in turn tell ten friends and before you know it, you have 100 people who will not use your business - even if they have no first-hand experience of your service!
Good service on the other hand, builds business. Your customer who had his complaint listened to will speak of your professionalism, which in turn will inspire confidence in potential customers.
So encourage your customers to complain to you - better you than to the whole neighbourhood.
I Wanna Hold Your Hand
Just like a romantic relationship, the beginnings of a customer relationship can be a beautiful thing for your business. But how far the relationship goes is dependent on what both parties want out of it.
Sure, a one-night stand (read: "a sale without after-sale service") provides for instant gratification. But if that is the limit of the interaction then you miss out on the ongoing chance to develop a deeper, more rewarding relationship.
Respect and trust are the two key words that should appear in your mission statement. A customer who gets no respect is fickle. The level of trust in your company is minimal, and s/he is prone to shop around - most likely going behind your back to do so.
There are many benefits from an ongoing business relationship. It has been well documented that selling goods and services to existing customers is far cheaper and therefore more profitable than marketing to new prospects. Earn your customers’ trust, and the effort to make ongoing sales is also reduced.
Another benefit is that if your customers love you they will tell their friends about your company and their fantastic relationship they have with you. You earn new customers by referral - the best kind. They trust their friends, so they are ready to trust you. Are you ready to win them over for the long-term?
Do More Than Hold Your Hand
Implementing a Customer Relations Management (CRM) program, aka The Little Black Book in the Dating Game of the Business World, is one of the most effective ways to promote ongoing relationships for healthier profit margins.
CRM is the understanding of your customers and how you measure and respond to them. The most basic functions of a CRM program are to log and track the leads, opportunities, actions and follow-up of your dealings with customers. It is not just a diary, but a formal process to nurture trust and loyalty that will see your customer’s dollars come your way instead of to your competition. Customers can be divided into four zones:
1. Prospect. They have heard of you, but are unlikely to approach you.
2. New. Customers have experienced one interaction with you, but depending on first impressions, may in a state of indifference.
3. Regular. They have purchased from you more than once. They may even know your name by now. But they are open to shopping around.
4. Advocate. Customers have a high sense of loyalty, choosing and referring your business over all others. They represent cash into your pocket with the least effort.
CRM focuses on bringing customers from the Prospect level to Advocate level. Start the process by logging every customer interaction into your “Little Black Book”. Include details of the product purchased and personal details such as children’s names or favourite ice-cream flavour. Flag a date to follow-up a repeat sale, and when the time comes, you have the tools for personal chit-chat (increasing your customer’s level of satisfaction) before getting down to business (increasing your level of satisfaction).
Did You Go My Lovely?
Keeping track of lapsed customers can prove more rewarding than chasing new ones.
If you have some quiet time, spend a few minutes flicking through your sales history. Identify any customers you haven’t seen for a while. Finding out early that there has been no recent interaction with a customer gives you the opportunity to re-establish contact and build relationships before they have had a chance to build loyalty with your competitor.
Can you think of any reasons why your customer has not been back to your business? List as many possible reasons as you can, including such things as price, alternative products, special offers from competitors, no further use for your product, bad service… keep going until your brain aches – good preparation is next to godliness when it comes to the step two of this process.
Next, beneath each reason why you may be losing customers, write your plan of attack to remedy the situation. For example, where the price is too high, your response may be that your product is the only one in the South-West meeting Australian Standards specifications. Or you may decide to squeeze your supplier for a better deal to pass on to your customer as an incentive to return. Or, you may be able to source an alternative product at a lower price.
Thus prepared, you’re ready for the third step in reclaiming lapsed customers. Pick up the phone and ask your customer why they haven’t been back to your business. With your rehearsed answers written down in front of you, you are ready to win back your customer’s business with professional finesse.
I’ve seen the innocent business card being used in many ways – as a drink coaster, a bookmark, or even a tooth-pick. Not a very auspicious ending for an often under-utilised marketing tool. Those innocuous bits of cardboard can drive customers to your website, direct people to your store, carry a special offer, or convince people why they should select your business over others. Give it some respect!
Just because they are small and commonplace, don’t underestimate the power of a good business card. It is precisely because they are portable and easily stored that it is worthwhile exploring some innovative uses for your cards. Some ideas include:
· Add a decal to your company car inviting people to “Take My Card.” Then dot the whole car with magnetic versions of your business card.
· Create a “bouquet” of your cards for a table centrepiece at networking dinners.
· Create a folding card and use it instead of thank-you cards or “With Comp” slips.
And here are some tips: At all times, use a good quality card. Professional business people need a professional image, and a business card is the abiding image that customers keep on file. Don’t clutter your card with fancy fonts and clashing colours – KISS it instead (Keep It Simple Stupid). Put your business name right up top so that customers flicking through their business card file can find you immediately. Keep your cards in a cardholder to ensure they stay crisp and clean when you hand them out. Hand out two cards each time – one for your customer and one for them to give to a friend (encourage referrals as you hand them over).