How To Get More Customers – There Is No Silver Bullet

In our humble opinion, a simple method to get more customers in days or weeks does not exist. The truth is it takes time and effort to get the new customers your business needs. Every business is different and there is no secret silver bullet.

You may have attended the latest social media workshop – tried it and got nowhere. Perhaps the advertising rep informed you that you didn’t give your advertisement time to generate results. Sign up for another three months and this time it will be different! Maybe you read that article about the business that used one simple trick to double sales in three months – yeah, right! Before spending any money on marketing it is important to get back to basics.

What makes your business different?

What makes your business stand out from all the rest? What can you do better than the competition? What added value do you offer the customer? Until you have figured this out how can you know what message to deliver to the marketplace? If the message is not clear, the same as everyone else, or just plain wrong then whatever promotional activity you try will not deliver results.

Who is your ideal customer?

What size are they, how do they buy, where are they located, why do they (or should they) buy from you? No doubt there will be various potential customer groups, what are those groups and what is different about them. If you promotional activity is not targeted then it will not deliver results. Who else serves your target customer group and how can you push them back into second place.

What set of promotional tactics is best?

One promotional tool is unlikely to work. What is required is a combination of marketing tools working together to achieve the desired result. Armed with your message the next task is to research how best to get that message to your target customer. Where do your target customers find information? Is it on the internet, is it printed material like magazines or newspapers, is it directories, is it social media or (more likely) is it a combination? Work on the promotional tools that are most likely to reach prospects.

Consistency Is Key

Whatever you do it won’t get more customers through the door overnight; it will take time and effort. If you have done your homework (as above) results will come. It is necessary to be brave and keep pushing on with your plan rather than jump from one great new thing to the next in the hope of fast results. If any promotional campaign is not delivered on an ongoing consistent basis it will fail.

Push Or Pull?

The main tactics used by small businesses to generate sales leads in the shortest possible time frame are telemarketing, advertising (online and offline), and direct mail. Some use Email (using purchased lists) while others still persist with techniques that fell out of favour decades ago like doorstepping.

The goal is of these techniques is to ‘push’ the message out to the consumer to raise awareness and generate sales. For the small percentage of the target customer base that has an immediate need this approach can work.

However, the response rate is very low and therefore the costs are high. There is no long term engagement hence to generate more sales the same tactics must be employed again and again. In any marketplace with a limited number of prospects it generally does not take long to reach a saturation point with steeply declining response rates as a result.

Now let’s assume the focus is only on pull marketing (inbound marketing) activities including social media, website, Email nurture marketing, blogs, articles and Google My Business.

For the much larger prospect base without an immediate need delivering useful and engaging content can keep them engaged and aware of the business until they are ready to buy. Performed correctly it also brings in those with a pressing need.

The issue is the process takes time to build to the point it delivers ongoing results. The fuel for any inbound marketing process is information (content) that may be text, video, photography or even audio. The costs of creating that content to fuel a pull marketing process should not be underestimated. There are also significant resources required to keep a pull marketing process running over time.

For most small businesses the most effective lead generation process is based on a subset of the total range of marketing techniques available. The key is to combine the best pull and pull small techniques for the particular marketplace that deliver the highest ROI.

No two businesses are the same, what sets them apart is different, their message is different, the way they get their message to the market is different. In the ongoing fight to get more customers there is not a single marketing tool that will deliver results for everyone. There is no silver bullet. What is required is a detailed understanding of your business and market, a plan and consistent delivery of that plan.

Pay Per Click For Small Business – An Overview

Many small businesses are confused about what PPC is and how it can help their business. This post delivers a short overview of Pay Per Click for small business and some mistakes to avoid.

Pay per Click is basically advertising online but, unlike conventional advertising, you only paypay per click online advertising as part of the marketing mix based on results. That is the theory but in practice it is possible to waste money without any return if you fail to follow some basic steps.

If you look at any page of search results along the top there are a number of listings. Generally, they have a short, clickable, title followed by a web address and two lines of text. These are pay per click advertisements and if you were to click on the listing whoever placed the advertisement will be charged a fee. The fee charged may vary from a few pence to several pounds.

A campaign can be set up to cover only a specific geographic area so the advertisement will only be displayed to anyone searching within that area. This can be a great benefit to any business with only a locally based customer base ensuring that the business does not waste time and money advertising to prospects outside that area.

The main steps to follow when setting up a PPC campaign are as follows:

  • Choose a phrase (keyword) that is relevant to your offer.
  • Build a landing page for your offer
  • Set up a Google Account
  • Start a new campaign
  • Target a location
  • Set budgets
  • Write advertisement

The key to the process is relevance. The content of the landing page (the page pointed to be the advertisement) must relate to the keyword phrase. There is no point selecting a keyword phrase such as ‘leather handbags’ if the majority of the landing page text relates to general ladies fashion with no specific mention of handbags.

The choice of the keyword phrase is critical. It must be relevant to the offer (see above) and there must be an appropriate number of prospects searching for that term in a given month. To keep costs down the keyword must not be too competitive (lots of other sites built around that keyword). There are various types of matching that can be selected on the keyword (e.g. broad and exact) and these must be chosen to give a balance between traffic and cost.

Choose the keyword incorrectly, set the budget too high, target the wrong location or forget the importance of relevancy and a pay per click campaign is likely to be simply a waste of time and money. However, if managed correctly PPC can bring predictable, ongoing returns for any business. Subsequent posts will deal in more detail with the issues surrounding correct set up of a Pay per Click campaign.

A Stream Of New Enquiries For Accountancy Businesses

Accountants tend to secure most of their business from local clients. Fortunately, there are several low cost (or free) marketing tools available that can deliver a steady stream of new enquiries for Accountancy businesses with a local customer base.

As over 85% of consumers search for local service providers online the first objective should be to ensure the practice has an effective online presence at a high position on the search engines. With this in place the second key objective must be to build credibility to ensure a prospect chooses to call your business ahead of the competition.

Before diving in it is best to spend some time to decide on your strategy. It does need to be a major exercise but it is important to decide on what sets your business apart from the rest, what is your niche, who are your competition, who is your ideal client and what is your ideal mix of clients. Only with this in place is it practical to move on to decide how you will get yourself known, boost credibility, obtain referral business and obtain the steady stream of new enquiries your business needs.

A professional Google my business listing is an excellent place to start as this can deliver a business profile (effectively a mini website) on Page 1 Google. If the business does have a website but it is not on page 1, the Google listing will point to the website and effectively give it a Page 1 ranking. There are many marketing education resources which explain the set up and optimisation procedures for Google My Business

A major advantage of a Google listing is it allows your business to display customer reviews and testimonials that can give a major boost to the practice credibility. Make it as simple as possible for clients to post a review via Google and / or use an offline testimonial and feedback system to gather testimonials that can be published online.

Credibility may be further enhanced by asking key clients, where you have delivered larger elements of work with successful outcomes, to allow you to create a case study. Rather than ask the client to do the work, write it up for them and ask for their sign off then publish the case study both online and offline as appropriate.

Social media can be an awful waste of time and effort but Accountants should at least have a profile on Linked in which can be used to publish case studies and information useful to potential clients. It may also be linked to a website (if one exists) or a Google listing.

The above may well be sufficient to deliver the required stream of new enquiries for Accountancy businesses and almost all of it can be achieved without expert marketing support using in house resources and low cost (or free) internet marketing tools and services. All that is needed is a marketing process and the will and resources to deliver against that process on a ongoing basis.