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.