12 May 2011

Business Owner – 9 Simple, Low-Cost Marketing Strategies to Win New Customers

This Growth Coach Blog is dedicated to helping business owners like you attract new customers with practical and low-cost marketing strategies.  The more fishing lines your company puts in the water, the better chance of catching new customers.  These are simple, easy-to-implement, off-line marketing strategies to help drive customers and revenues into your business.  While not all of them will make sense for your business, some definitely will. Adopt and adapt a few that make sense for your situation.

Here are 9 powerful marketing strategies worth considering and discussing with your team:

  1. Formalize and optimize your referral systems.  Identify (crunch numbers, don’t rely on hunches) your best-performing referral sources over the past 12 months and be sure that you thank and reward them for their efforts.  Communicate with these proven providers often to maintain a top-of-mind awareness.  Once you identify these top providers, shamelessly clone these folks.  For example, if you are a house painting company and determine that your best referral sources have been real estate agents, replicate this formula.  Don’t complicate the magic.  Educate these and other referral sources as to the specific types of customers and circumstances you serve best.  Referral source cultivation is one of the most underutilized yet low-cost, high-yield marketing weapons that exist.  Don’t be lazy with your referral source marketing efforts.
  2. Leverage those relationships that your business helps to financially support (your banker, CPA, attorney, suppliers, vendors, financial adviser, insurance agent, etc.). To determine which ones would make for good informal sales agents for your business, ask the following types of questions: “Who will benefit from our success as we continue to grow and expand?”  “Who do we write checks to on a regular basis and would have a vested interest in supporting our business development efforts?”  Identify these relationships and ask these folks to reciprocate and support your growth efforts through leads, referrals, testimonials, etc.  Don’t be shy, ask them to step up and support your marketing efforts.  If they don’t, seriously think about getting new advisers, suppliers and vendors.
  3. Gain leverage from current clients/customers.  Your best referral sources should be your current customers.  Ask them for introductions/referrals to other potential buyers or ask them to provide endorsements, testimonials, or serve as references.  Have them write down their testimonials or even make audio or video testimonials for your website.  Also, always ask current clients about other unmet needs they may have.  There is always more you can do and charge for.
  4. Identify and cultivate complementary businesses as strategic alliances.  While referral sources are individuals, alliance partners are entire organizations that support your business.  For example, a business coaching company would want to form alliances with those that can help steer business their way (CPA firms, banks, law firms, Chambers of Commerce, consulting firms, weekly business papers, etc.)  How do you find potential alliance partners?  Ask, “Who already has the trust and respect of our prospects?”  “Where do my customers go for advice?”  “Who serves our typical customer before, alongside, or after we do?”  These questions should help identify some good alliance partners.
  5. Make doing business easy, convenient, and risk free.  Do not ask the other party to assume risk if they start a business relationship with you.  Instead, for example, communicate an unconditional money-back guarantee.  Don’t keep your guarantee hidden, broadcast it.  A credible and specific guarantee will bring in far more business than it costs you.  For example, at The Growth Coach, a North American business coaching franchise system, “We guarantee the value of all our business coaching services.  If you are not fully satisfied with our initial coaching session, for whatever reason, we will promptly and respectfully give you a full refund.”  Our business coaching process is so effective and proven that we stand behind it with a guarantee.  As such, clients have no financial risk doing business with any of our business coaches throughout North America. Because of the guarantee, referral sources as well are very comfortable sending their clients our way. That’s powerful marketing.
  6. Influence many people at once with special events/seminars.  Consider hosting educational events for customers, referral sources, and prospects.  Consider holding them in conjunction with other companies (newspapers, radio stations, suppliers, banks, CPA firms, industry experts, trade associations, complementary companies, etc.). This will allow you to tap into their customer relationships as well.  For example, if you are an upscale travel agency introducing new exotic trips, consider co-hosting an event with an upscale magazine, jewelry store, auto dealership, country club, money management firm, etc.
  7. Consider using public relations. Public relations can be a powerful source of leverage as you educate and influence a targeted audience about your benefits, expertise, etc.  Get to know the reporters in your marketplace and periodically call them with some story ideas. The real value of PR is the back-end opportunities … once you get the positive exposure, put it on your website, use it with e-mail marketing, post the article or video to your blog, put it in your sales packets, etc.
  8. Leverage your past customer relationships.  Revisit with past, worthy customers or inactive customers and express your interest in rekindling the relationship and solving any of their current problems.  These folks did business with you at one time, wrote out checks to you, and may well be receptive to re-activating their relationship with you.  However, you must identify and heal any unresolved wounds and share with them the benefits of doing business with your company once again.  Give them an inducement (bonus, discount, additional service level, etc.) for taking action and ordering once again.
  9. Leverage indirect competitors to gain new customers.  Indirect competitors are companies that you seldom go head-to-head with competing for business.  For example, you could establish a formal referral relationship (swap leads, pay finder’s fees, share revenue, do co-marketing, etc.) with an indirect competitor that is much larger or smaller than you are or in a different geographic region.  For example, a smaller CPA firm could establish an alliance with a large CPA firm and swap leads that don’t fit their respective niches.  A small, traditional plumbing business could form an alliance with a plumbing company that focuses on doing only the tough, complex, big jobs.  Leads could flow both ways.

Hope you found this Growth Coach business coaching blog on marketing strategies to be helpful.  Simply pick a few and fully implement them.  Results come from implementation, not thinking about implementation.  Just do it!

For many more practical sales and marketing strategies to grow your small business, download our highly popular e-book, “Becoming a Strategic Business Owner”.

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