Some business owners scoff when I suggest it’s possible to double one’s customer base in a single month, but I honestly believe it’s because most set their expectations too low.
For some reason, people seem to only expect growth in line with, or slightly above the rate of inflation, so they believe they can get a 5% increase in their customer base, or maybe 10%, but they think 100% is impossible. If you change the way you think, however, and take action, you’ll realise that it’s very doable.
1. Build a ‘loyalty ladder’ and create raving fans
Loyal customers are ideal customers. They bring you repeat business and once they’re at the point of being ‘raving fans’, they can’t stop talking about your business, so they end up sending you referral business too.
Building a loyalty ladder means coming up with some sort of formal loyalty programme, whether that’s offering a loyalty card or VIP membership, and then incentivising your preferred customers in some extra way to make them feel special.
You then move people along this loyalty chain by ensuring each interaction with you is superb and exceeds their expectations, and rewarding them for repeat business so that they begin to be cheerleaders for your business.
2. Identify a target market for a clever direct mail campaign
People don’t often get snail mail anymore, so if you can make your mail interesting (i.e. it shouldn’t look like a spam advert or a bill), direct mail can be very effective.
Direct mail campaigns work best for reaching a specific consumer demographic, rather than a ‘spray and pray’ approach where you send out thousands of mails to anyone or everyone, and hope for a response.
Unlike broad methods of advertising that hit everyone within a given geographic area, direct mail works best when it arrives at the doorstep of those consumers who are already known to be great candidates for your product or service.
For example, if you run a management consulting company, you probably need to be targeting people who would benefit from your services, which means the decision-makers in a business, rather than entry-level employees.
At ActionCOACH, we do what we call ’lumpy mail’. We hand address the envelopes and put something interesting inside to raise the recipient’s curiosity. For example, it might be a teabag, with an intro along the lines of, “Make yourself a cup of tea – you’re going to want to spend some time mulling over this offer for your business.”
Direct mail should be short, to the point and include a call to action, whether it’s ‘bring this voucher into the store for a 15% discount on your next purchase’ or ‘take advantage of this special offer available until XX date’. It’s also important to only send out as many mails as you can follow up on, and then to do follow ups.
Using the teabag example, I will call the people I sent the mails to, and instead of it being a typical cold call, I’ll start the conversation with, ‘So, did you enjoy that cup of tea?’ It gives you an entry point into a conversation, which can then lead to a sales opportunity.
3. Create a formal referral programme
Design a referral programme that rewards customers for bringing others into the customer base. For example, if your business is a spa, you could offer your client R100 off their next treatment if they bring in a friend with them (the friend pays the normal rate).
Referral rewards can be in the form of discounts, gifts, invitations to special events, or ‘closed door’ sales events where only certain customers are invited to participate and take advantage of savings, exclusive products, or other preferred customer perks.
Many business owners balk at the thought of letting go of any customers. Yet most could benefit from weeding out their worst clients (the ones who are difficult, don’t pay on time, always complain and give you 80% of your headaches, but only 20% of your income) and focusing on doing more business with their top clients.
Rank your clients from A to D (with A being the best and D the worst), get rid of the Ds and you’ll have more room for A clients.
Start by identifying who the best customers are by applying the ‘80-20’ rule, which states that 80% of a company’s business comes from 20% of its customers. Treat those customers particularly well and invest extra energy in satisfying their needs while extending service above and beyond the call of duty.
Figure out ways to move your C and B clients towards becoming A clients and ditch the Ds (either by suggesting that if they are unhappy they consider doing business with a competitor, or by sitting down and discussing the fact that the business relationship is not working and seeing whether the issues can be resolved or deciding it’s better to part ways).
5. Create strategic business alliances
I find that many business owners say they do this, but don’t actually formalise the alliances. By partnering with other businesses with which there is a common customer demographic but no direct competition, a company can expand its customer base quickly and easily.
Those customers who trust other businesses and have proven their loyalty to them will be inclined to follow their recommendations or perceived endorsements of an alliance partner.
As an example, a stock broker and a luxury car dealer may share a similar target market, and can send each other referral business.
The stock broker might be able to send his top clients an invitation to the exclusive launch of a new vehicle, while the car dealer could offer his top clients a free first consultation with the stock broker. Both are offering value to their clients and sending the partner potential business leads.
6. Consider advertising
Getting the word out through mass media is often the only thing necessary to vastly increase your number of customers, but many business owners mistakenly believe that they can’t afford advertising. Reconsider the possibility and you may be surprised.
The problem may be that you’re looking at the ‘big’ publications or radio stations. You might not be able to afford to flight an advert on Talk Radio 702 for example, but advertising on your local community radio station might well be within your budget, and directed at a target market within your specific geographic region.
Make sure you advertise where your target market ‘hangs out’. For example, instead of spending an inordinate amount of money on one small ad in the Sunday Times business section, it might be more effective to spend the same amount on regular, larger ads in your local community newspaper or a targeted magazine that your customers will be reading.
Business owners say they spend time training and up-skilling employees, but many don’t do as much as they could without much extra effort. It can be as simple as changing the words your sales people speak when customers arrive in your shop.
Instead of opening with, ‘Can I help you?’ (to which the response is often, ‘No I’m just looking’) you might get them to ask, ‘Have you been in the shop before?’ The answer then guides the sales person in the direction the conversation can take. If it’s ‘yes’, the response might be, ‘Thanks very much for coming back to visit us again. Is there anything particular you’re looking for?’ A ‘no’, on the other hand, leaves room for something along the lines of, ‘Welcome then! It’s lovely to have a new visitor. Let me quickly point out where all the different sections are…’
Of course, it might require more time, money and effort to get your employees more effective in growing your business. They might profit from attending sales or marketing workshops, for instance. Wine reps for major wineries often travel to Europe to learn more about wines at the company’s expense.
Construction companies send carpenters and electricians to evening courses to get advanced certifications. These investments all pay off when those employees return and land lucrative new accounts, do a better job, or are able to charge customers a higher rate for more specialised service.
8. Improve the conversion rate for leads and contacts
The best way to grow your business is to quickly convert new leads into customers. To do this, you need to measure your current conversion rate by looking at the number of leads you have over a set period (say, a week or a month), and then how many of those are generating actual business sales.
Let’s say you sell tyres. Every time someone calls or walks in, make a note of what they wanted and whether they ended up buying tyres or not.
You may be dismayed to learn that your conversion rate is lower than you think – perhaps one in five. Once you know this rate, work on improving it – it takes less work to convert a lead (someone who is already interested) into a customer than it does to find new leads.
If the current conversion rate is 20% for every 100 contacts or leads, that translates into 20 new customers a month. Boost conversions to 30% and that represents a 50% increase without doing any extra marketing or advertising.
9. Convert customers to multiple purchasers
Instead of focusing on finding new customers, it’s often easier and more effective to get someone who has bought from you once to do so again by up-selling or cross-selling. The example I always use here is how few restaurants take down your contact details while you’re there for a meal. There’s one that does in Pretoria, though.
They explain that they run various events, such as wine pairings or hosting guest chefs once a month, and ask whether you’d like to be kept informed and invited. This gives them an opportunity to capture your contact details and send you enticing offers that are very likely to get you to visit again.
Related: How to Make Your Customers Smile
Think of how you can implement this idea into your own area of business – how can you ensure every customer becomes a repeat customer?
10. Make use of digital marketing
Create a website and focus on using your digital presence to drive people to your physical location (if you don’t offer the option of online purchases). Your website acts as a shop window that never sleeps and a business presence that extends around the entire world almost overhead-free.
Give site visitors something valuable in exchange for more information about themselves. They sign up on the site or visit the store, for example, and are rewarded with a discount, contest entry, or a free consultation or service upgrade.
Make incentives irresistible and continue to emphasise a call to action, otherwise Internet surfers will never convert into useful leads and real customers.
11. Increase your visibility
Brand recognition is powerful. That means you need to ensure your brand is consistently portrayed on every platform and that it’s recognisable and professional. Maybe you had limited budget for corporate identity when you started out and did it on the cheap.
Now may be the time to invest in a quality logo and brand design, and then use it at every opportunity. Don’t use generic shopping bags when it is possible to put a business logo and tagline on them. If you’re planning on gifting your clients, make sure the gift is branded. Have your staff wear uniforms with logos on them and brand your delivery vehicles.
Henrico Hanekom – Discover Your Inner Marketing Genius
Like most Leaders whom firmly believe in positive transformation, Henrico Hanekom has created “new blue waters” in the form of a niche service which he calls “Neuro-marketing”.
Henrico Hanekom describes himself as a “street wise marketer”. After attending to hundreds of clients’ individual marketing needs he has defined an unique approach that veers away from the traditional marketing agency methodology.
Like most Leaders whom firmly believe in positive transformation he has created “new blue waters” in the form of a niche service which he calls “Neuro-marketing”. Initially Henrico honed his skills as a founder and CEO of Megaphone Media, a company whom has served companies such as ABSA, Toyota McCarthy, AGSA (Auditor General of South-Africa), NRF (National Research Foundation)” by getting their message across utilising mainly digital visual media.
Roughly five years ago Henrico became a qualified Neuro-coach to empower him to answer a critical question: What can we learn from Neuroscience to improve marketing strategies in general? Henrico explained to me that normally all marketing campaigns aim to create a strong perception that will drive the consumers’ behaviour in a way that justifies the campaign spend, therefore at the root of an increased understanding of perpetual marketing principles lies behavioural sciences.
It is common knowledge that the average consumer faces severe cognitive overload considering the overwhelming amount of information available to us and the staggering amount of advertisements and marketing delivery mechanisms that people are exposed to in the modern world.
Increasingly marketing agencies are scratching their heads considering the complex question of: How do I make my clients stand out? A past reliable staple to secure results was to ensure high quality ad design underpinned by a very good offer to the public. That however might have worked occasionally during times when the market was not as saturated as it currently is.
Henrico passionately elaborated on his well-tested strategy to ensure that his clients are not only standing out but elevate their status to a market leader. He starts with a clean slate and encourages his clients to stop considering the competition. He refrains from giving advice and instead coaches within an environment where his clients can “discover their own genius”.
Through experience Henrico has discovered that it is common for companies to struggle with firstly defining their message clearly and secondly to clearly communicate their message to their audience. In general, a clearly communicated message that resonates with prospective client’s emotions and their personal values multiplies positive results, he shared.
Henrico further shared his experience to say that marketing and sales must be in alignment and that marketing is the DNA of the business, or put in another way, “Marketing is the communication of what is already within”. He has further found a general phenomenon amongst his clients in that their aspirations do not usually match their faith in their abilities to achieve. As a Neuro- coach Henrico then utilises Neuroscience and Neuro Linguistic Programming techniques to align his clients’ aspirations and belief in their abilities to powerful effect.
As a “Neuro- marketer” he assists his clients to rise to a high level of awareness so eloquently encapsulated by Albert Einsteins’ words of: “We cannot find a solution to a problem with the same level of awareness that created the problem. “
Henrico firmly believes in the Leadership principle of Authenticity and coaches his clients to authentically advertise the truth. Through all his expert efforts he aims to position each company that he works with as a “magnet” that strongly attracts clients as opposed to “pushing” and aggressively acquire each client.
The author ended this inspiring interview by asking Henrico what he is passionate about in life. Henricos’ sincere intent was tangible as his lips formed a smile from which his answer emenated: “Life was meant to be lived abundantly.” He also added that because life was meant to be lived without limits he is driven towards helping people to “get unstuck”. This man invests heavily into his own personal growth knowing that this long-term investment constantly empowers him to give the highest of himself to his clients.
Practical proof of Henricos’ commitment to personal growth was abundantly clear during and after the interview. The interview was done directly after Henricos’ workout and we drank (I will admit it was delicious) organic smoothies during it, and after the interview, we had a long and interesting discussion on personal development and servant leadership.
4 Ways To Reach A New Target Audience Without Abandoning Your Old One
Four strategies to reach a new demographic without changing what current customers already love about your company.
For 56 years, Häagen-Dazs had a consistent message: high-quality, old-fashioned ice cream for sale. But that’s changed: Thanks largely to millennials, the company recently refreshed its brand with a revised logo, more vibrant packaging, new flavors and a global advertising campaign.
This younger generation of consumers is continuing to cause a massive shift in the market across all industries and sectors. That’s why this ice cream company wanted to cast off its stuffy, traditional image and connect with millennials over craftsmanship and storytelling.
There’s a lesson to be learned here: To stay competitive, any entrepreneur or business leader has to consider the many challenges of a constantly evolving business landscape, including his or her company’s demographics and consumer trends.
If you wait to consider how your audiences have changed and will continue to change, you’ll risk far more than will your competitors already investing in brand analysis and audience outreach.
Expanding your tent
Business leaders may be aware of the changing marketplace, but that doesn’t mean they’re eager to change. For many companies, a major brand overhaul often meets with internal resistance; and to be fair, such an overhaul is not always the right answer. For some companies, it’s better to maintain a consistent brand message amidst rapid change. It’s the discovery that’s important, the self-assessment, the long view.
Because we live in an experience-based economy, whether you’re designing your customer experience intentionally or not doesn’t matter: You’re still delivering one. Messaging plays a major role in reinforcing or diluting that experience.
Here are four steps you can take to help your business appeal to new demographics.
1. Develop robust personas
Every landing page, blog post or article you put out there should align with a distinct persona to effectively connect with a desired target audience. A CEO, a parent and a college student all require different messaging to inspire a response.
A seemingly obvious but often overlooked way to gain a better understanding of your current or potential customers’ needs is to ask them directly. Surveys can be effective, but personal, one-on-one interviews are better, even if you can only conduct a handful. Offer a small incentive to gather eager participants, and ask questions designed to reveal what motivates them and why they chose your product or service.
At Pharos, we need to shift our messaging to highlight the parts of our business that are relevant to each specific persona we target. We use three aspects of our value proposition to position ourselves in a way that aligns with what our audience cares about most. Print management solutions lower expenses (business owners love that), improve security (CIOs and IT directors love that) and boost sustainability (which should resonate with everyone). All three messages mutually reinforce one other and are consistent across experiences.
For example, we worked with one university’s leadership who wanted to reduce and manage back-office printing costs. To help get employees on board with secure print workflows, its leaders promoted the sustainability aspect of print management’s value proposition and subsequently were able to save $3,000 a month while significantly reducing the university’s carbon footprint.
Related: How Do I Create A Content Strategy?
2. Ask what your CRM data is trying to tell you
If your data collection process includes a wide range of questions to qualify leads, you should be able to find customer information such as company type and size, contact job titles and the types of content most often consumed.
Your sales team should then be able to help translate those numbers into concrete characteristics and create a more complete understanding of your customers. As you find common trends, you can combine those tendencies into a general view of each customer type, and use it to fill out your personas. This will help diversify your buyer personas and, consequently, your brand’s ability to connect with an expanding range of consumers.
Evaluating your data can also help you recognise surprising audiences that like your brand. When the small business software company Hatchbuck was launched, its founders tried to reach as many segments as possible, from salespeople to business owners, to pitch its platform.
To zero in on its ideal customer, Hatchbuck gathered survey responses, crunched the numbers and conducted customer interviews, seeking to define its buyers’ behaviours and beliefs.
The company was surprised to learn that, even though it had been attracting larger companies looking for an affordable software with lots of features, smaller companies were its biggest supporters. Hatchbuck decided to focus its efforts on these small business owners – its ideal customer. Discoveries like this can be enlightening and critical to success.
3. Showcase how your brand delivers what people want
Proving your product’s relevance to a different demographic doesn’t mean abandoning the things that make it valuable to current buyers. It means adjusting your messaging to highlight the benefits that are more aligned with the new audience.
For example, Vera Bradley bags and luggage have been a popular choice for baby boomer women since the 1980s. When the brand decided to expand its target audience and appeal to younger women, it tapped into social media to gain insights into the demographic and observed a trend of complaints among millennials about the shortcomings of smartphone battery life and the annoyance of awkward battery cases.
So Vera Bradley created a bag with a built-in smartphone charger. This helped to improve its offerings and reach a new audience without introducing change that might alienate its faithful, long-time customers.
4. Leverage the granularity of marketing automation
Many businesses see demographics as an aggregate average, but this perspective can destroy any chance of recognising the need to change. You don’t target youth through the same channels used to reach company decision-makers.
Approaching demographics using too broad of a viewpoint ignores the micro-targeting capability afforded by many marketing-automation systems today. Granular, personalised messaging is becoming the norm, not the exception.
To reach younger demographics with precision, take advantage of automation tools such as HubSpot, Marketo or Hatchbuck, proven technologies that can drastically improve the reach of your digital marketing ads and provide you with valuable analytics on your consumers.
These automation technologies have a long track record of producing a positive return on your investment. They can also help to improve various aspects of your digital marketing strategy. According to research by Regalix, 64 percent of marketers surveyed said they saw benefits within six months by using automation software.
The millennials in today’s workforce will be the decision-makers of tomorrow – and I mean tomorrow, not five years from now.
Organisations that fail to recognise this shift, or delay the process of discovering how best to change along with new demographic opportunities, can end up fueling internal resistance to such change and, ultimately, lose their opportunity to stay relevant.
Don’t be one of them.
This article was originally posted here on Entrepreneur.com.
6 Reasons Why Influencer Marketing Really Works
Stand out. Get noticed. Six reasons why influencer marketing really works.
In today’s day and age you need to ensure your marketing spend is going to the right places and most importantly, that you’re getting the best bang for your buck.
Influencer marketing is a strategy that offers one of the highest returns on investment. Basically, influencer marketing is the process of identifying strategic individuals within your target market, and partnering with them to create advertising that is genuine and more palatable to the audience.
Google Trends show that the interest in influencer marketing is at an all-time high, and further studies demonstrate that personalised, word-of-mouth marketing is more than twice as effective as the alternatives.
Good customer reviews make the best marketing
The idea is pretty simple — instead of a brand telling you why their new product is so amazing, the good review comes from a popular and trusted individual. When an influencer or thought leader promotes your product or service to their audience, they’re essentially telling their audience “You trust me, and I trust this company.”
This form of advertising is becoming increasingly popular since audiences have already opted to receive this particular person’s opinions. It also puts a human touch to your marketing effort. Partnering with influencers makes your service more trustworthy and allows you to effortlessly reach a wider audience.
Influencer marketing has been identified as the most effective method of customer acquisition in 2016 and 2017, ahead of the likes of display advertising, email marketing, paid social media and traditional media.
92% of consumers turn to people they know for referrals above any other source.
Here are six reasons why influencer marketing works:
1It really does work
There are few things that drive a sale more effectively than word-of-mouth recommendations.
Studies show that trusted word-of-mouth recommendations generate more than twice the sales of paid advertising, and those that were acquired through word-of-mouth had a 37% higher retention rate.
2It’s social media friendly
The world and marketing have shifted to social media. 70% of brands are increasing their social media marketing spend in 2017.
Today, it’s easier to connect with other consumers via social media and make better purchasing decisions by learning about their experiences with a product or service.
Influencers are a force to be reckoned with; brands can strategically partner with the right personalities to spark organic conversations and seduce their followers.
3Cut through the clutter
According to research, the average social media user is exposed to 5 000 advertisements a day. Whether or not that number is scientifically proven, it gets the point across: We are exposed to a lot of ads.
Influencers are able to cut your brand through the clutter and get it straight to your target market’s eyes.
4It’s native advertising
Traditional advertising interrupts the consumer experience (think TV commercials during your favourite series).
Native advertising places brands and products within the organic content, creating a more pleasurable experience for consumers and a more powerful marketing solution for brands.
5Your SEO will strengthen
On top of building your brand and improving your sales numbers, influencer marketing also helps your search engine ranking.
User-generated social posts account for 25% of search results for the world’s top 20 brands. The more people mention your brand on social media, the more popular and relevant you will be on Google.
Probably the most important thing of all is that marketers and brand owners can actually track the success of their influencer marketing campaigns, unlike expensive TV, print and radio campaigns.
The digital world is different. Every website visit, social like, and picture posted online can be stored and analysed, giving you tons of data that turns into valuable insights about your target market and your advertising performance.
Influencer marketing presents a massive opportunity for brands to leverage the power of word-of-mouth at scale through personalities that consumers already follow and admire. The possibilities are endless, you’ll actually save marketing spend and guess what…? You can finally measure your results.