Running a business can get pretty hectic and sometimes we get stuck in our routines because they are comfortable and easy. Here are a few things to get your brains working outside the box that will hopefully show you some positive results!
- Marketing Tactics
Good marketing is a highly important part of your business. It’s simple, if people don’t know who you are and what you are offering, they can’t make a purchase from you. Most of you reading this blog are probably DOW Electronics retailers, and therefore participate in co-op advertising, and that’s great! If the brand that you are selling is willing to offset a portion of your marketing costs in exchange for you following their marketing rules, I say take advantage of it! However, don’t forget that you are allowed to do your own marketing without the assistance of co-op funds. The benefit of incorporating non-funded marketing tactics with your co-op funded initiatives is that you have greater freedom to experiment with your advertising. You can give online ads a try, get your business mentioned on the menu of your favorite sports bar, or sponsor a local baseball team and have your name printed on their jerseys. The beauty is that you are really only restricted by your own creativity. And don’t forget that when you are paying for the advertising, you can include many products that you offer in a single ad– co-op advertising generally doesn’t allow for this, or if they do, the reimbursement will be reduced.Don’t be afraid to think outside the box when marketing your business, just make sure that you aren’t violating any of the business rules of the products that you promote. Sure, you will have to take on the full cost of your marketing initiative, but remember that the name of the game is Return on Investment. You can’t think in simple dollars and cents. A co-op funded technique may cost you less out-of-pocket than advertising that you finance independently, but if you’re not seeing a return on it, was it really worth the money that you did spend? You should always be thinking about your cost per sale!
- Your Company Website
Welcome to the 21st century, people! The internet can’t (and shouldn’t) be ignored. When people want to know something, find a business, or comparison shop, they go online. If your business isn’t there, it needs to be. What’s more, it’s not just enough to be online, you have to be active. Consumers shy away from a poorly constructed website that is seldom updated. Make sure that your website is professional, current, and full of useful and relevant information. You should visit your own websites regularly and evaluate whether the website you see is one that you would be impressed by as a consumer, if not, it’s probably time to update. You should be able to find a company who can build you a website for fairly low-cost (ask your friends and colleagues, they will likely have a recommendation), or if you are so inclined you can use services like WordPress to create a website. For those of you who are DISH retailers, there is even a program that offers free and co-op eligible websites! There is no excuse anymore, even small local businesses need to be online.
- Social Media Marketing Think of your social media presence as an extension of your website, only this is where you have two-way communication with your audience. You can let your customers and potential customers know the latest news about your business and they can let you know about their experiences with you. The important thing that a lot of people forget about social media is the social part. Facebook and twitter were not created for you to peddle your goods and services, and their users don’t care to see a new advertisement in their feeds every few moments. With social media, you have to find a balance. Only promote when you have something notable to announce, like a big event or that great new product line that just came in. As a small business, it’s important that people know that your page is run by you, a real person in their own community. Don’t be afraid to comment on local happenings, the weather, or to make a joke– people want to buy from someone they know and trust, not from someone who is constantly pestering them for business. Let people know who you are and what you do, but don’t throw it in their faces. If you’re constantly providing interesting industry information, tips, and helpful commentary, they will make an effort to be a part of your business.Social media is also a good customer service tool. If someone has a good experience with your business, they may leave a “thank you” or “great job” on your page. This works the same way with negative feedback. It’s important that you are proactive and address both the good and the bad. Respond quickly and kindly– thank users who leave positive messages and do what you can to resolve negative experiences. In most cases, resolving issues on your social media pages where all of your current and potential customers can see is actually good for your business. Others will see that you have done everything in your power to correct a mistake and that you were sensitive to the customer’s problem. Often times, you can win back the customer who had a bad experience, and with him, several others who see that you aren’t afraid to admit to a mistake and to fix it. No one is perfect, it’s the way that you operate in a bad situation that sets you apart.
- Search Engine Optimization (SEO) You may have heard of search engine optimization, or SEO, or you may be wondering what the heck “search engine optimization” is. Basically, it’s a process designed to bring your website higher up in search engine results. SEO incorporates many different elements and there are individuals and companies whose sole purpose is SEO. Though it is a complicated process, there aresome things that you can do to make your website more search engine friendly. As I am not an SEO expert, I will defer to those who know what they are talking about:
These are just a few blog posts to help you out and get you more familiar with the SEO monster, you can find endless information by googling SEO or Search Engine Optimization. If you really want to make sure that your website is properly optimized, it may do you some good to hire a professional. There are pros and cons to hiring help, so make sure to do your research first. Google has a great little guide on SEO and what to look for and questions you should be asking when looking to pay to optimize your site– who better to ask than the most popular search engine there is, right?
- Customer Retention
Last, but certainly not least, we come to customer retention. This is the one that many of us often forget about. Many businesses get so focused on generating leads and bringing in new sales that they forget about the sales they’ve already made. It is important to bring in new customers, but it’s even more important to keep them and maintain their loyalty after the initial sale. The next time a loyal customer needs something that you offer, they’re going to look to you first and not the competition.Maintaining a current customer is much cheaper and takes much less effort than does selling to a new one. Often times all it takes is a few simple gestures to show that the customer is important to you and that you appreciate their business. A great way to build relationships with your customers is to stay in touch. After the initial sale, send them a thank-you card or give a small gift with purchase. It doesn’t have to be anything big, just a little something extra to add that personal touch that the other guy doesn’t offer. Then, make sure to follow up after the sale. Add the customer to a mailing list to let them know when you’re having a big sale or offer a customer loyalty discount. Send a little reminder to let them know to send in a rebate or cancel services after the promotional period is up.Think about what keeps you coming back to a business and find a way to incorporate that tactic into your business plan. Why spend all of that time, effort, and money to get one sale when you can turn one sale into many over the years? I can’t say it enough, as a business owner you want the greatest possible return on your investment– so why not get 3 or 4 sales for the price of one?
Here are a few ideas from Aaron Lee on how to reward your customers.
What has worked in your experience? Tell us below!