When it comes to running a business, Leonardo Da Vinci’s saying “simplicity is the ultimate sophistication” remains relevant today. Complexity can be a major threat to a thriving business, especially when it comes to marketing. While there are many strategies available to business owners, keeping marketing simple is the best approach according to Peter Irvine, Co-founder of Gloria Jean’s in Australia. Here Peter will unpack six simple areas where you can experience a quick boost in sales and grow your customer base, especially during challenging economic times.
Offer Something For Free
In a crowded marketplace, it can be discouraging when your paid advertising efforts seem to be returning few conversions. How can you attract new customers when they are already many competing alternatives in the market?
Most savvy consumers today are driven by a “Try before you buy” mentality, withholding spending decisions until they have sampled a product or service. Whatever industry you operate in, a trial or free sample can go a long way in building brand awareness and a loyal customer base. Peter has seen this simple approach work consistently across various industries. He observes:
I’ve seen this work time and time again to not only bring customers straight away but into the future. Word of mouth advertising is powerful and it’s free!
This marketing strategy is versatile and is used by the best performing companies. Whether it’s Netflix who offer a free month after sign-up or Google that offer free cloud storage, you can be guaranteed that delivering something for nothing will help build your customer base and increase engagement.
Follow Up On Enquiries
Let people know they are not just a number.
Sometimes, the seemingly small things we do in business can have the biggest impact. Returning a phone call or email promptly doesn’t seem to be a big deal but if you don’t get onto enquiries quickly, a potential customer or client will go somewhere else.
Rather than thinking “I’ll get to it eventually,” Peter suggests putting in place a process and supporting system so all enquiries through phone and online are followed up within a day. If you don’t place importance on the necessity to quickly return enquiries, you will face massive repercussions for your sales.
In today’s world, not only do people expect things fast, they expect clear communications. It gives a bad impression of your business when you don’t return enquiries promptly. If you can’t get back to customers promptly, they will go somewhere else. As American Investor and businessman, Mark Cuban advises:
Make your product easier to buy than your competition, or you will find your customers buying from them, not you.
When you focus on customer experience it opens up new opportunities and new audiences. You won’t be overwhelmed with the competition, rather you will confidence that you have built systems and processes to build and sustain rapport with customers.
Clean Up Your Website
Establish authority and trust online by paying attention to online content
Does your website still speak to your targeted audience and is it easy to navigate? Is it time to repurpose or delete content so it remains current and up-to-date? Do all the links, including call to action buttons work? For a generation of consumers who have learned to Google before they buy, refreshing and reviving your website can go a long way in building a bridge to reaching potential customers and clients. A website is a business’ online storefront and as Peter points out just having any off the shelf website won’t deliver in the age of the educated consumer.
The $500 website won’t do where people research differently and buy differently. You need to spend a little bit more money if you want to have a website that engages with your audience.
It doesn’t have to cost a fortune to have your online content relevant and timely so potential customers can find the information they are searching for. When redesigning your website, it is essential that the customer journey for a range of buying personas is taken into consideration. Peter recommends business owners have on each page of their website a “Buy now” or “Contact us” button and then be ready to respond.
Have the Right Receptionist
Invest in the most client-facing member of your team
For many businesses, the receptionist plays a pivotal role in establishing the tone of your organisation. What do your customers see, feel and perceive when they speak to your most client-facing member of your business? Are they welcomed to engage with your company or are they turned off by how their queries are received?
Peter has witnessed many businesses that fail to invest in this key position of the company, even though the receptionist talks to more people than anyone else in the business. More than a great communicator who can help unify your organisation, an invaluable receptionist will also possess a range of technical skills so they can assist new members of your team to understand company systems.
If your receptionist is away, ensure others are trained to be ready to answer customer queries and handle any external complaints. Employees are your company’s most important asset and are key to your marketing efforts. The words of Richard Branson, serial entrepreneur hold true:
Clients do not come first. Employees come first. If you take care of your employees, they will take care of the clients.
Employees who feel their company is invested in their careers are likely to be more committed to your company’s mission and become better advocates of your products and services. Your employees will also become acutely aware of your customers’ needs and can provide feedback to you on the improvements that need to be made to your products and services so you can maintain customer satisfaction which translates into an increase in sales.
Offer Something Special
Where there is mystery there is margin.
Are you introducing a new product or service to the market? Whether it’s using a cash discount for an early order to create an urgency or combining two products at a special price, you can motivate customers to take immediate action. Peter explains why this simple sales strategy can be so effective:
“When you can take something and package it with other things, it’s very difficult for people to go elsewhere and be able to compare prices.”
One of the reasons why people begin referring a business to their family and friends is because they feel valued as a customer through customized offers and promotions. When you offer perks to loyal customers, the end result is a higher customer retention rate and a more effective marketing strategy since it is less expensive to market to your current customers than it is to acquire new ones.
You can make customers feel extra special by celebrating important customer milestones such as birthdays or anniversaries. If you want to go one step further you can introduce a customer loyalty program and give special rewards for referrals or for a limited time have unique offers in exchange for reward points. Don’t over complicate things as Peter wisely points out, remember it’s all about keeping it simple!
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About Peter Irvine
Peter is passionate about teaching others how to be successful in their businesses and personal relationships, whilst remaining true to their values and faith. He is currently an Executive Coach for Business On Purpose, a business mentoring program which helps Christian business owners to grow in their calling to serve Christ in the marketplace and navigate the new economy.