In this economy, you are likely looking for new ways to bring money in the door, and countless sales gurus are knocking on your door telling you how this or that new-fangled technology can make all your business dreams come true. But sometimes, the answers to our greatest challenges are sitting right underneath our noses.
Case in point: the fastest, cheapest, and most effective way to bring in more profit is to focus on current and previous customers. They’ve already proven their interest, and to some extent you’ve already gained their trust.
Therefore, many of the simplest marketing ideas for small business owners like you, who don’t always have a huge budget for high-tech marketing, focus on leveraging this micro-segment of your market base. Let’s pick up some of that money you’re leaving on the table.
1. Stay in Touch
First off, you absolutely, positively need to be staying in touch with your current and past customers on a regular basis. Don’t just shrug this off—yeah, everyone’s saying it, but are you really acting on it to the full extent?
It’s crucial to build different systems for storing client and prospect information and then following up with them. And there are plenty of platforms for doing it these days.
How to get their information?
Simple ask during initial form-filling. Offer discounts or information packets on your website in exchange for email addresses and get them on an automated mailing list. Set placards in your place of business, offering an immediate discount to those who text your system.
Restaurants, especially, can fill up on a slow day by simply sending out a text message with a surprise discount!
Follow-up communication channels range from telephone numbers to email addresses to text messages to mailing addresses to social media, and most of these communication channels can be automated for your convenience (though I strongly advise against automating telephone calls).
Now that you’ve got their info, send them news about your business, industry goings-on that might affect them, alerts about promotions, or reminders about annual checkup dates.
It just depends on your business and your imagination.
2. Make Them V.I.P.
Create some kind of V.I.P. membership for people who frequent your business.
Entrance can be free or paid—depending on the value of your offer—but either way, people like feeling like they belong. You can see this idea used in businesses in almost every industry, and even a small-town sports bar can capitalize on the idea by giving cards to their regulars and offering a special price on certain drinks for members.
Reward people for being regulars, and they will reward you back!
3. Give Them Something for Nothing
Many entrepreneurs despise marketing ideas for small business that encourage giving promotions, discounts, and freebies because they are obsessed with making a profit on every single transaction. Big mistake!
Instead, think of the lifetime value of every single customer.
How much does a customer typically buy over a year’s time? How many years do they keep coming back? And how many of their friends and family members end up coming in to your business as well?
Isn’t it worth breaking even sometimes to recoup the lifetime value of the average client?
Getting a break-even price or event taking a loss can be a great way to get people in the door, buying from your company, and you can make a lot of money on the back end or from future buys after you establish a relationship.
Dirt cheap oil changes. Free tooth whitening kits from dentists. Happy Hour restaurant specials. All marketing ideas for small business owners who want to leverage this powerful principle.
4. Tell Them What They Can Buy
You’d be amazed at how much more money you can get off your current customers and prospects if you just ask for it—too many businesses don’t do enough to educate their clients about what it is they have to offer.
Don’t let people who are there to buy just make their purchase and walk out the door—what if they wanted something more?
Always have a process in place to educate people about what else you have available—other packages, variations, upsells, crossells, and related services are great profit-building and value-adding mechanisms for any business.
5. Plug Your Profit Leaks
How much money do you leave on the table just by letting people slip through the cracks?
Think about all those times the phone rang but no one picked it up fast enough. Or all those times the person who answered the phone was in a bad mood or didn’t know the answer to the question asked.
How about people who search for you online, ready to make a purchase, but cannot find you. Or that land on your website only to find the contact information out-dated.
Now think back to the lifetime value of each and every customer I mentioned before. Isn’t it safe to say that very time a mistake like this is made it costs you the lifetime value of a customer?
That’s just unacceptable.
Look, before spending more money on expensive new marketing campaigns, take a real hard look at your current systems and processes. Visit your own website and click on every link. Call your company and see how many rings it takes to get someone—how educated they are about helping you.
Analyze every contact point with customers to see where it can be tightened up—some small business owners are able to double or even triple their profits simply by plugging the leaks!