If you’ve been in business before, you understand the challenges of getting customers through the door. In theory, it sounds easy. But in practice, it’s tough.
Luck has nothing to do with your success in marketing a new business or making sales. Incorporating creative ideas into your marketing strategies is the way forward.
The internet has broadened the options for new businesses hoping to reach more customers. In addition, it’s made it easier and more affordable. A simple Google search will reveal numerous case studies of successful start-ups. Many prospered by driving thousands of sales on a shoestring budget. However, the success stories don’t reveal what goes on behind the scenes – how innovators used their creativity to attract customers.
Whether you run a brick-and-mortar operation or an online business, the following ideas can help you pull in customers. The plan is to entice potential customers to inquire about your new business.
1Invent a viral hashtag
Brands today are likely to make more sales via social media than any other channel. Instagram and Facebook are two platforms customers use to discover new brands and products to follow. Those who find a way to go viral have the best chance to be discovered.
A business that invents a trendy hashtag can become the social-media darling everyone wants to patronise. Here are just two types of hashtags:
- Controversial. If you think it could work for your brand and customer base, follow in the footsteps of Daniela Bregoli. She now has more than 8 million Instagram followers who key in to her #cashmeoutside catchphrase (still a popular meme).
- Sensual. Nusret Gökçe is known for treating his meat affectionately. It earned him the nickname “Salt Bae.” His #saltbae Instagram videos attracted global attention when they went viral and earned him 5.9 million followers.
2Guest-post for free
You can extend your reach by seeking out and contacting top online publications in your industry. Offer to guest-post in exchange for having your name and business featured in their bio. This will expose your content to a larger audience and direct more attention to your website or preferred platforms.
3Cold-call potential leads
Reaching out directly to new customers might sound scary at first, but cold-calling is a proven way to make sales to customers who might not even know they needed your products or services.
Just identify your target buyers and hit them up. Practice your sales pitch until you perfect it.
4Meet new customers at events
Because people are curious about new businesses and what these companies have to offer, attending events can be incredibly beneficial. Moreover, events often offer the opportunity to meet journalists and secure some much-needed press.
Find out how to set up your own booth or stand. Display your products, hand out business cards, and distribute flyers advertising your services or products. This is your chance to chat with the crowd, network and exchange contact details with potential customers.
5Start a blog about your business
Business blogging is similar to regular blogging. The difference is you’re sharing details of your company’s products or services with your readers.
Your business blog is an ideal platform to answer customers’ questions and give discounts, freebies and special offers as incentives and rewards. Sharing high-quality, compelling content targeted to your ideal customers will drive traffic to your website.
6Use Facebook ads to reach customers
Facebook ads are an effective means to reach new customers. Even better, these ads are cheap. Start with a daily budget of $5 and target a very specific audience to keep your costs down.
To nail this platform, learn how to run a successful Facebook ad campaign.
7Build email funnels
Email marketing remains one of the most effective ways to get repeat customers. Use your business blog to build a mailing list by encouraging your readers to subscribe. Nurturing your subscribers prepares them to become paying customers in the future.
Ideally, you’ll start collecting emails before you launch your product or service. This allows you to start building a relationship with these ground-level potential customer base and move them down the sales funnel as soon as possible.
8Speak at events
New business founders can get exposure by speaking at events. It’s easy to get a speaking gig if you’re able to demonstrate a great understanding of the event organiser’s goal.
This tactic not only creates value-added exposure for your business but also builds your credibility as a founder and a trusted resource in your industry or market space.
9Rent a festival booth
Cash in on spring and summer festivals. Start by researching local festivals, and speak with organisers to learn whether your customers are likely to attend the events.
It’s rare for a business to get a booth at Comic Con and come back without being swamped with sales and requests for press interviews.
Entice customers by giving out freebies in exchange for their email addresses. Promoting your brand at a booth while employing ingenuity and marketing savvy could produce a significant turnaround for your business.
10Volunteer under your brand’s name
Doing good for your community also benefits your business. Through a corporate social-responsibility campaign, your new business can open new doors to opportunity.
For example, give something free to your community. Helping people in need will get the attention of local newspapers. They’ll write about you and showcase your brand in the process, attracting even more supporters for your worthy cause (and your leads file).
11Give away samples
Costco knows the power of giving away samples. The retail giant has gained long-term customers from this practice.
You might offer a free trial (e.g. “first month free”) or send a free sample in the mail. Bite-size versions of the real thing can prompt people to spread news about your brand, resulting in free publicity and personal testimonials.
12Hire affiliate marketers
When done correctly, affiliate marketing can boost sales considerably. It’s one of the most cost-effective types of marketing because you only commission only after a successful sale. Affiliate marketers do the work for you by linking up with appropriate websites to promote your products or services.
You part with your cash only after they’ve managed to convert visitors into paying customers.
13Give samples to product critics
Criticism usually is perceived as negative. Instead, try to think of it as constructive input – a positive element. Criticism can become an effective way to refine or reinvent your product. If all you hear is good reviews, how can you tell if your product is faulty or missing a vital element?
Offering product samples to critics enables them to do a deep dive. Use that feedback to improve your product or fix components that don’t work as well as they should.
Workshops bring you face-to-face with potential customers. Use these events to share your professional expertise. Surely, there are aspects of your business you can tap into to connect with people on this level.
Providing value, increasing knowledge and sharing good practices raises brand awareness and builds trust. You’ll be viewed as an authority in your industry while developing the skills of potential customers.
15Post a video review of your product
A number of platforms feature video or live streaming content options to help you educate prospective customers about your products. Facebook Live videos are trending. One of this platform’s benefits: Viewers can comment and give feedback in real time. While they’re seeing you live, they’re beginning to develop a relationship with you and your brand.
You also can create a YouTube channel dedicated to your product. Incorporate these videos in your business blog and create circular references: Drive traffic from YouTube to your website by embedding a link within the video and its YouTube description.
16Secure a spot on product-review sites
Positive reviews can boost your brand’s credibility. They highlight your products and pique potential customers’ interest. Reviews based on unbiased opinions are the most likely to influence prospective customers.
Investing in review sites such as Yelp typically yields a healthy ROI. According to a BCG study, business owners who paid to advertise received typical yearly profits of $23,000, generating $15,000 more than those who used only the free Yelp Business Page.
17Post your services on Craigslist
Established in 1996, Craigslist has grown to become one of the most popular advertising websites. The average monthly page views in November 2016 were 50 billion, with a turnover of 60 million users.
Capitalise on this free platform to get your brand out there. Post your ad under the Services section to reach customers in your niche. You can list your ad under a specific region, city and type of ad.
Still, be aware you’re up against competition. Study Craigslist to find out how to stand out from the crowd, and position yourself accordingly.
18Send cold emails
The beauty of sending cold emails is that your customers can access them wherever they are. No longer are they restricted to a desktop computer. Modern technologies – mobile phones, laptops and iPads – make it a breeze to check emails on the go.
On the other hand, people are bombarded with emails every minute. How do you make yours stand out? Develop a strategy, and carry out A/B split tests to figure out what works and what doesn’t. Research your target audience, then use the right language and the right messages to make sure they click.
19Hire a human billboard
Human billboards are a growing craze. Although they certainly won’t work for free, part-time help won’t cost an arm and a leg. You’ll want to target students, retirees or anyone looking to earn extra cash.
A human billboard in colourful, full-body paint can craw attention to your brand – provided it’s an appropriate move for your company’s persona. Even wearing a sandwich board instead of the Pantone rainbow, your human billboard will be available to answer questions from potential customers.
20Wrap your car
Imagine the number of people who will see your brand as you drive your local streets and high-traffic areas.
Your car becomes a moving billboard, that drums up notice wherever you go. Even when parked, it attracts attention. Vehicle wraps help your brand gain recognition, and that top-of-mind awareness could drive a high percentage of direct sales.
21Hand out flyers
Although businesses started using handbills to promote their brands as early as the 18th century, flyers still are having a marketing impact in the 21st century.
Don’t limit yourself to handing out flyers to passersby in your neighbourhood. You can display these versatile materials in shop windows, mail them to specific contacts or leave them in shops where members of your target audience are sure to show up.
Flyers raise awareness of your brand and provide ample “real estate” on the page to give the reader or viewer a picture of who you are.
In addition, if people tuck your flyer away in pocket or snap a quick photo with their smartphone, they can refer to this info when they need to contact you.
22Run viral contests
Regular contests can ramp up your business quickly and build engagement with your audience. Plan them properly to ensure success.
Qualified winners should get free products as prizes. Contests should involve participants who can highlight your business on their social-media channels, so shares and likes quickly can go viral.
Another option: Invite participants to enter a contest with their email addresses. Follow up by sending sales emails.
23Build a product-page website
A product-page website is essentially a landing page. Showcase your product with images that display its best features. Choose a design that complements your brand, and include captivating copy that emphasises how your product or service solves a problem.
A combination of professional design and appealing images will attract target visitors and can help convert leads into sales. Make sure your product page includes an opt-in offer so potential customers can access your giveaway in return for giving up a few contact details.
24Create a punchy elevator pitch
Know how to sell your brand, and entice potential prospects in 30 seconds or less. Create a short, memorable elevator pitch. Then, practice until it’s perfect. Make it punchy, relevant and full of benefits. Use it to impress likely customers when they ask you about your brand. You never know when you’ll have an opportunity to pitch your products or services. Always be prepared.
25Send out press releases
What news can you share? What’s interesting? How do you differ from your competitors? Write a compelling story about your business. Submit it to various free public-relations sites to let the world know about your business.
Marketing your business doesn’t have to cost you a fortune. With creative thinking and a few tips in this article, you can grow your business more quickly. Choose which tactics would be most at-home in your industry. Plan properly, and don’t be afraid to step a bit out of your common comfort zone.
This article was originally posted here on Entrepreneur.com.
Useful Marketing Tactics For Growing Businesses
Customer acquisition, customer experience and content marketing can be identified as the three most important marketing strategy areas to focus on.
Digital marketing offers the business world so many advantages, including the ability to communicate with their target markets quickly and easily. Unfortunately, digital marketing has also opened doors for companies to flood mail boxes, news feeds and ad spaces with junk mail and spam resulting in customers tuning out to anything irrelevant and suspicious.
Customers have become less likely to trust companies and less receptive to messages. The only way for valuable messaging to stand out from the noise is if a business knows how to market itself properly.
Over and above advertising, there are a lot of other aspects that contribute towards an effective marketing strategy, these include research, email, content creation, list curation, social media and even customer service. To be a successful marketer it isn’t necessary to become an expert in every single marketing tactic, but it is important to master the most important areas. Customer acquisition, customer experience and content marketing can be identified as the three most important marketing strategy areas to focus on.
1. Customer acquisition
Of course, not all customers are the same. Some customers are only interested in buying products on sale from a particular brand and then never interact with that brand again. Acquiring, and of course retaining customers with a high lifetime value should be the overall objective for businesses, but this requires more time and money being invested in better, more qualified leads. While the upfront costs might be higher, in the long-term this investment will pay off with continued business from these lifetime customers.
2. Customer experience
Competitive pricing can’t be the only aspect that businesses focus on in order to stand out against competitors. In the current digital era customers expect a good customer experience when they deal with brands so this should be an important focus area for all businesses. Customers expect fast and seamless experiences such as intuitive user interfaces and processes, fast websites and service response times, as well as accurate information about the problems they face.
Customers don’t want to waste their time on websites that require them to jump through hoops, and they definitely don’t want to feel misled by anything a business is communicating. Customers will quickly move on to other sites that offer better experiences as well as other businesses that are more trustworthy. Good customer experiences can go a long way.
Offering more personalised, interactive engagement tactics and improving the customer technology interface should be high priorities for businesses.
3. Content marketing
Marketing is no longer about telling customers that your brand is the best. With the movement towards content marketing, marketing has become about showing customers why you are the best. Content marketing is a legitimate, effective strategy that every business and brand should make use of. While content marketing is a lot more cost effective than outbound marketing, it also generates three times as many leads and offers many other benefits.
Content is a key feature for growing businesses who want to survive in an information rich environment. Customers are looking for brands that provide value beyond their products so creating high-quality content can help you grab your audience’s attention.
Although there are many other factors that are involved in an effective marketing strategy, seeking out customers with a high lifetime value, providing them with a great customer experience while also providing them with valuable content is a recipe for success.
An ‘Outside-the-Box’ Approach to the e-Commerce Unboxing Experience
Get started by keeping three elements in mind – recyclable/re-usable packaging, personalised thank-you notes and free samples.
With a predicted 24,79 million e-commerce users in South Africa by 2021, online shopping is here to stay, making it impossible to escape the predicament of perfecting the art of product packaging. It’s time to think outside the box when it comes to creating a meaningful unboxing experience. Get started by keeping three elements in mind – recyclable/re-usable packaging, personalised thank-you notes and free samples.
Certain types of product packaging are having a tremendous negative impact on our environment, with 5.35 trillion pieces of plastic debris littering the world’s oceans, and with 269,000 tonnes of this amount floating on the surface – and plastic isn’t the only culprit. Did you know that it’s impossible for Styrofoam to ever be broken down completely? And that 1 million single-use coffee cups wind up in landfill every single minute of every day? These statistics make it obvious as to why it’s becoming so important for business owners to be more conscious about the type of packaging that they use.
Many business owners wonder if their customers really care whether their business is doing its part to protect the environment. According to Forbes and a 2017 Cone Communications CSR Study, the answer is a resounding ‘YES, they most certainly do!’.
87% of the consumers surveyed stated that they always have a more positive image of a company that supports social or environmental issues, and 88% claimed that they usually feel more loyal toward a company that they know supports social or environmental issues.
Thoughtful Thank-You Notes
The unboxing experience should be a unique and personal one, and it should be just as memorable as the experience of utilising the product itself! So, make it all the more special and build customer loyalty by including a personalised thank you note. Address the customer by their first name, thank them sincerely for their patronage and end off by giving them some helpful advice regarding the product, or share an interesting benefit of using it. Go the extra, extra mile by hand-writing the letter too.
Everyone loves getting free stuff. Why not bolster the unboxing experience by sending over a little bit more than expected? Not only will a free sample put a big smile on the face of the receiver, if they actually enjoy using it, there’s also a good chance that they’ll be coming back to order more. According to Shopify, free samples have the potential to boost sales by as much as 2,000%.
When it comes to packaging, make the right choice. Sustainable, thoughtful, memorable. Your customers, and the environment, will thank you for it.
The Facebook Ads Strategy That Can’t Lose
It’s a numbers game.
Running a profitable Facebook Ads campaign is simple. Not always easy, but simple.
There is a formula that can guarantee a profitable Facebook Ad campaign. Once you know the formula and the values to plug in, you’ll never sink money into a losing digital ad campaign again. I know it sounds too good to be true, but stick with me…
The Guaranteed Growth Formula
Here’s the entire formula: CPA < AP
Were you expecting coefficients, remainders and dividing by polynomials? Nope, there are only two values that matter when assessing your digital marketing funnel.
1. CPA – Cost Per Acquisition
2. AP – Average Profit Per Client
If your Cost Per Acquisition, the amount you pay to generate a paying customer using Facebook Ads, is less than the Average Profit you make from each new customer you’re guaranteed a profitable campaign.
Calculating Average Profit
To get average profit per client, sum your total revenue from new clients and subtract what you spent to serve them. Divide the result by the total new clients. For example, if you made $75,000 from 10 new clients over the past year and it cost you $40,000 to serve them, your average profit is:
($75,000 – $40,000) / 10 = $3500 Average Profit Per Client
If your average acquisition cost for similar future clients is less than $3500, your campaign will technically be profitable.
Of course most businesses won’t want to spend all of their profit on acquisition. An average business can expect to invest at least 7 percent but no more than 15 percent of revenue in sales and marketing. If Cost of Goods accounts for 60 percent or more of total revenue, your low profit margin may make it difficult to afford successful advertising. Decrease operating costs by increasing efficiency or adjust your margin by raising prices.
Don’t make the mistake of calculating Average Profit based on revenue only from the first sale. Use at least six months of revenue or your lifetime client value as the basis for your calculation, or you risk underfunding your marketing and sales budget.
Calculating Cost Per Acquisition
Let’s assume you’ve considered all of your marketing and sales costs and determined you can spend $350 per new client on Facebook Ads. Let’s reverse engineer your ad campaign to see if a $350 cost of acquisition is reasonable.
The simplest Facebook ads funnel includes four metrics that build upon each other to determine your acquisition cost. I’ve included standard benchmarks for use as a starting point, but your results may differ:
1. Click-Through Rate (CTR) – Percentage of people clicking on your ad. Your CTR should be near or above 1 percent.
2. Cost Per Click (CPC) – The cost of one website visit. CPC should generally be below $3.
3. Lead Conversion Rate – The percentage of site traffic that becomes qualified leads. This value should be 20 percent or above.
4. Sales Conversion Rate – The percentage of leads that convert to a sale. Aim for sales conversion at or above 5 percent. (E-commerce companies often skip the Lead Conversion stage and have a Sales Conversion Rate of 1 percent or greater.)
If 10,000 people view your ad at a 1 percent CTR, you’ll get about 100 website visits. At a $3 CPC, you’ve spent $300. Since 20 percent of your traffic will become leads and 5 percent of those leads become closed sales, we can calculate that you’ll generate approximately 60 leads and three new customers.
Your estimated acquisition cost using Facebook Ads is $100 per client, which is well within your budget of $350. This cost may rise as you scale and target less optimal prospects, but as long as your acquisition cost is less than $350 you’ll make an acceptable profit.
Complex funnels can include several ads and conversion points, but the Guaranteed Growth Formula of CPA < AP still applies. There’s no immediate reason for concern if your metrics differ from the benchmarks. You can and should split test ideas for improvement if your numbers are far from what you expect, but don’t mess up a good thing until you’ve got a better one.
Optimising Your Guaranteed Growth Funnel
If unhealthy metrics cause your acquisition to cost more than what you’ve budgeted, start with these adjustments:
Click-Through Rate Too Low or Cost Per Click Too High
If your CTR falls far under 1 percent Facebook may stop showing your ads or show them to second-rate audiences causing your traffic to tank and CPC to increase. To improve your click metrics, adjust your ad copy (headline and body text), ad creative (image or video) and highlight the benefits in your offer.
Refine your audience. Tailor your copy, images and call-to-action to the audience you’ve selected and ensure that your audience has the desire and means to act.
Lead Conversion Too Low
If leads aren’t converting at 20 percent or more, either the promise made by your ad isn’t congruent with your landing page, or the process of moving forward is too difficult. Try using the same image and headline in your ad and reduce the form fields in sign-up forms to the bare minimum. Also try retargeting visitors who don’t sign up with ads stating the benefits of acting now, or with a different offer.
Sales Conversion Too Low
If you’re an Ecommerce brand with sales conversion below 1 percent your shopping cart or sales process may have too much friction. Simplify the sales process to decrease clutter, or increase trust by adding testimonials and trust signals near important calls to action.
Your sales process may need improvement, but that is beyond this article. In the meantime, you can still increase revenue by cross-selling and upselling those who convert. You may also improve client retention with recurring contracts. Yes, that’s why many software companies are switching to cloud-based subscription models.
When used properly, The Guaranteed Growth Formula of CPA < AP makes Facebook Ad marketing an investment, not an expense. Using the formula, the most you should ever risk is a small initial budget to test whether your estimated calculations hold true in practice.
If your net profit is 3X your acquisition cost, your funnel returns $3 for every $1 you invest. Instead of asking “How much should I spend on marketing?” The question becomes, “How much do I want to make?” I’ve built a Facebook Ad Growth Calculator that incorporates the Guaranteed Growth Formula to help execute your growth strategy. Input your revenue goal and it will estimate the Facebook Ad impressions and traffic required to reach it.
This article was originally posted here on Entrepreneur.com.