Are you still taking out ads in the local paper and sending brochures to potential customers through the post? If you continue to receive a great response, keep at it, but chances are there are better ways to reach your target market. Here are five ways to better channel your money (and time) for improved customer conversion and retention.
1. Use free online tools
Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn are often pushed as must-haves for small businesses, but make sure you analyse the potential ROI before joining. Are your target customers there and receptive to marketing messages? Do you have an engagement strategy?
When seeking local products and services, many people now head straight to the web, so make sure you have an entry in ABDO and Places for Business. And don’t forget the online versions of the Yellow and White Pages, where you can list basic information about your business for free.
2. Expand your network
Networking does involve some time commitment, but it’s a powerful way to find people who can help grow your business. Check local listings for seminars and industry events, get to know your customers, and look for opportunities to present yourself as the best solution to their problems. Also, work on your ‘elevator pitch’ – a short, compelling speech outlining who you are and the value you offer. Lifehacker has some great examples.
3. Get free publicity
A blog can be a good way to build a following and showcase your industry knowledge, but it does require coming up with fresh ideas on a regular basis. Another option is to provide media outlets with a fresh news angle that will help to generate buzz for your business. Hosting special community events such as fundraising drives or supporting a local team can be a great way to achieve this type of exposure.
4. Ask for testimonials and referrals
Good customer testimonials on your website and other marketing materials can be worth their weight in gold. Get in touch with regular customers and ask if they would like to provide feedback. Referrals are another cheap yet powerful customer acquisition tool – just make a habit of asking customers if they know anyone else who would benefit by purchasing from you. It’s also worth noting that providing great customer care and service will help to create customer loyalty, saving you a ton of time and money on advertising.
5. Partner up
If there are businesses in the area offering services that complement your own, find out if they would be interested in cross-promotional activities such as reciprocal website links and social media recommendations. If they have a blog, ask if they will accept a guest post from you that promotes your business. By accessing their blog audience, you’ll be able to quickly grow your potential customer base.
Even with a minimal marketing budget, there are many effective low-cost strategies that can help to bring customers to your door, as well as increase the loyalty of your existing clients. All they require is some time and a few dollops of creativity.