Since my very first job working in radio almost 20 years ago, I have been helping businesses of all sizes sell more than ever. I want to share the recipe that I have been crafting for almost two decades.
This recipe (read as tips) can help any committed business owner achieve better sales. Take some time and read this. Study these. Maybe even take notes… If nothing else my hope is to offer you something useful or even to hear that you’ve put a few of these into practice. Here’s to growing your business.
Step #1: Forget what you already know about marketing and throw away that outdated marketing guide already.
Marketing is a rapidly changing landscape. What worked 20 years ago probably doesn’t work as efficiently now as it did then. You can get our list of current marketing tips here.
Step #2: Find you Best Customer
Simply saying “we’re looking to target Adults 25-54” isn’t going to bring in your best customer.
If you dig a little further and find you’re really looking for women age 25-61 who make more than $60K+ per year, are in a management role, own a home, and like outdoor activities – you’re starting to get somewhere.
Be specific. Speak to that customer directly and they’ll come through the door.
Another few ideas for finding your best customer include:
- Mine your existing customer list, and find commonalities.
- Study Geography… Where are your customers? Where are their homes or offices?
- Find your customer niches.
Step #3 Research Competitors
This is a crucial step in understanding your business. Without this knowledge it is virtually impossible to sell or market your services. You need to know what your competitors are offering in order to make your offer attractive to potential customers.
So many times we have seen and heard business owners say “No one offers what we do.” Or “No one offers service like ours.” The reality of this is that most of the service a business offers is pretty average when compared to their competitors.
The key TAKE AWAY here is to find out what you’re really up against and THEN BEAT IT by adding massive value.
• What did we do that made you buy from us vs. the competition?
• How can we improve our service to you?
• When buying XYZ what were your expectations?
Step #4: Network and Connect
One of the biggest myths in business is that you have to have a HUGE network. Really, you only need a few connections to begin with. This step is all about quality vs. quantity. It is the influence of the people within your network that helps and counts.
Make a list of the 15-20 (more if you like) most influential people in your market. This list can be high quality prospective clients or influential connectors. Influential connectors are the people who can recommend you to buyers of your product or service. Put a plan together to target these individuals and EARN their attention. This approach to networking takes time, so I suggest joining your local chamber, a networking group or a mastermind group to help build up clientele in the lean beginnings and also to help you prefect your networking skills.
Think about where your business would be today if you had worked this step when you started your business.
Step #5 Create Content Marketing
What is content marketing? You’re reading it right now. Content Marketing works.
DISCLAIMER: It works as long as you produce high quality, useful content!
You’ve probably heard the term “Content Marketing” before and you may or may not be familiar with it. Perhaps you’ve heard of it but still don’t know what it is, yet I’m going to imagine if you’re reading this you probably visit websites looking for content and information for your business on a regular basis.
When you visit sites with news, entertainment, google “how-to’s” or read blogs like this that offer business advice you are using content marketing. That is – a site that offers useful information to market itself. Content is king, and it can be used to market any type of business. Content marketing is unbeatable when it comes to attracting new clients, leads, referrals, and staying on top of existing clientele’s mind.
A Word of Advice: Don’t publish just to publish or try to automate the content creation process! The worst thing to do is to share irrelevant content or share content without an opinion on the material. The idea is to create a dialogue and convert the audience to paying customers. Both Google and Facebook now have algorithms that filter (and rank lower) material that is not relatable to the business. Posting content that has little or nothing to do with your business can REALLY HARM your chances of being found and read.
Here’s how to use content marketing:
- Create a website with a blog.
- Publish FREE articles and video info that offers your best customer VALUE, while offering them the opportunity to purchase the goods or services you sell. The FREE Info should be closely related to the product or service you are selling!
- Publish a newsletter that goes to those that subscribe to your blog.
- Use short but concise video tips as part of the blog.
- BE CONSISTENT
People will find the info, use the ideas and share. Some, and I said SOME, NOT ALL of those people will convert and buy what you are selling. For example, you’re reading this right now and may decide to send me an email or give me a call to discuss your marketing endeavors.
You may be asking right now – “Wait… If you’re giving away all of this FREE advice won’t people just take your advice and do it themselves?”
Maybe… But I always explain to clients that there are a few types of people who will read or watch your content. They are:
The Freebie: These people never pay for professional help in anything they do. They don’t have a budget or a plan. They’re trying anything to get the phone to ring. One thing doesn’t work, they dismiss it as a bogus idea, and they’re on to the next. These people were never prospects.
The Doer: The Doer reads and/or watches your content. They will then try to implement your ideas and do it themselves. They’ll realize that the task at hand is much larger than they thought or they’re not getting the results that they thought they would, and then they contact you to get some insight. They hire your or buy your product or service because the recognize the value of your expert counsel.
The Valueist: The Valueist is the rarest of rare. Probably the holy grail of customer. These are the people who value their time, know their skillset, and recognize that by hiring a professional the task at hand is accomplished correctly, less expensive, in better time, and the results/desired outcome are better.
Step #6 Create an Email Drip Campaign
Email is an extremely cost effective and powerful marketing tool available to business. The best way to start building your subscriber list, is to ask all your existing clients and contacts if you can have their email address. YOU MUST HAVE PERMISSION otherwise your email is classified as SPAM
Ask your customers if you can contact them from time to time via email with a newsletter with special offers and announcements. This will get you your initial list and give you something to get started with. So long as you ONLY contact these people with useful information, and make it easy for them to share your newsletter, your list will grow… in size and value.
Have an email sign-up box on your website or blog. This needs to be easy to read and positioned in an uncluttered area of your site, which everyone will see.
Be extremely cautious of “marketing experts”, who say you need to have pop-up boxes in order to get their reader’s attention. It simply shows they have no idea how to optimize their website.
- Send one email message every 7-14 days
- Let people know that you won’t share their info or sell it.
- Ask readers to forward and share your tips and give a link so the shares can subscribe too!
A final thought on email, like creating content marketing, if you want to achieve the very best results possible, always invest in professional content creation. It can be the difference between a successful campaign and one that generates nothing!
Step #6A: Consider a Direct Mail Campaign
According to the Online Marketing Institute it takes the average Joe or Joan 7-13+ touches before a prospect turns into a customer. A direct mail campaign is an easy way to stay in front of your customers or prospects.
A mailer can be tied in with you prospect list or client list where you share capabilities, information about your business, sales, new products, or some of that fantastic content you created earlier.
Postcards, letters, self-mailers, or a combination of different mailer products are great ways to stay in front of your prospects and customers.
Identify Your Best Customer: Utilize your customer list, and/or fine tuned prospect list.
Plan the schedule: Print and send a post card every 2-4 weeks.
Develop a theme: You need a strong visual theme and content that is consistent so that the tactics and branding are recognizable.
Select what you want to mail: Post card, Self-Mailer, Letters are all great examples of direct mail pieces
Integrate Other Channels: Typically a mailing is followed a few days later by an email with a similar message and visuals; the cycle repeats until the campaign is complete.
Step #7: Internet marketing
Are you aware your website is a lead generating machine capable of 24/7 harnessing power to collect information on potential customers?
Your website can generate high quality enquiries, leads, phone calls and sales from interested prospective clients… so long as you do it right.
When a website is professionally designed and marketed, its power to attract is unstoppable. It’s like having a store on the busiest most traveled route in your town. Most small business websites are more like stores that are on an unused dirt road in the middle of nowhere. They are outdated and poorly marketed. Update the site – it could be so much more valuable to the business owner.
The investment required for a professional looking website or blog is minimal. Yes, you certainly can spend thousands on a website, however, for the vast majority of businesses there’s absolutely no need to spend that kind of money.You don’t need to spend a fortune, to have a successful, professional website or blog.
Another reason you need to take your website seriously, is that almost everyone now uses the Internet to “check out” a potential business. Before deciding whether to do business with a provider or not, most people will look for the business website! That includes the people YOU market your services to. So, what is your website “telling” them about your business?
Is it full of stock photos with little or nothing to do about your business? Is the content correct? Does it explain what you do and how you do it? Does it offer a call to action for prospects?
Your website is a unique part of your marketing in one really important respect: it alone has the power to either supercharge or kill the response rates of all your other marketing activities.
So, if you send a direct mail piece for example, be aware that the people that were interested in what you offered will visit your website before deciding to contact you (or not!) This means the quality and content of your website has to encourage people to completely trust you and see you in a wholly professional light.
If your marketing hasn’t generated the response rates you hoped for, remember, the people who ‘were’ going to contact you visited your website first. A professional looking and optimized website is essential. It’s as simple as that.
Step #8: The Power of Curiosity
Every sales inquiry or new client inquiry you receive, has one thing in common – the prospective client or customer is curious, and they have an issue that they need professional help with. They want information, and they contact you to in order to find out how they can solve their problem. Here is your opportunity to convert them from an prospect, to a paying customer.
Instead of building curiosity, most small businesses do the opposite. Businesses lay out all of the info to the customer try to answer as many questions as possible. You will see lists, detailed information and FAQ’s. By doing this you reduce the need for a prospect to contact you. Yes, there should be basic information on what you do and sell, but anything you do beyond that is hurting your results.
Instead of bombarding your prospective clients with information, your marketing should pique their curiosity. It should inspire them to feel they need to call you, email you, or visit you.
So, review your current marketing and decide whether it’s building curiosity or eroding it. If you’re not building curiosity, you’re missing out on an extremely valuable marketing opportunity.
Step #9: Don’t Mistake Movement for Progress
This is really important. It’s all too easy to mistake movement for progress… activity for productivity. I have worked with business people over the years and found something amazing. The owners of under performing businesses always work just as hard, and sometimes even harder, than the owners of successful ones.
First impression is that this doesn’t make any sense. Once we dig a little deeper we realize that the reason their hard work is getting them nowhere, is that they mistake movement for progress.
They’re working in the business and not on the business.
In other words, they work hard and put in a huge number of hours, doing the wrong things! For example: A contractor that wants to grow his business, yet refuses to hire help because he needs to be out there swinging a hammer is destined to remain in that situation. There’s only so many hours in a day or nails in a box. You are limited to what you can do by time. HIRE PEOPLE. Work on the business not in the business. Truly successful people will tell you that it requires a team of trusted individuals being trusted to do their respective jobs for your company to be successful.
Working 12 hour days incorrectly, yields worse results than working for 6 hours a day. They think that the harder they work, the more successful they will be. The reality is different. The reality is that rowing a boat with all your strength, in the wrong direction, will simply take you further and further away from where you want to be.
Work hard, sure. But make sure you’re working hard doing the right things, correctly.
Step #10: Hustle
The Interweb is jammed with people selling ideas. Some say that you can automate your way to success. They offer products, programs, webinars, seminars and services, which promise shortcuts to success. THIS IS NOT TRUE. These are tools to learn from not short-cuts. Success is made in the trenches and on the shores.
Their are 3 things you need to remember, when people offer you shortcuts to business success or wealth:
- They are seldom shortcuts.
- They never lead to success.
- You’re probably going to lose money.
The reality is that you can’t trick your way to the top. Success comes from hard work, making the right decisions, and progress. Success comes quickest, when you find the most direct, effective route from where you are to where you want to be.
If you want to be successful make a plan.
- Decide what you want to achieve.
- Put a strategy together, to get you from where you are now, to where you want to be.
- Then work your strategy. Put in the effort. Invest the time required and reap the rewards.
If you find yourself working hard on your business and NOT getting the sales results you want, STOP! Re-read this list and see how you can improve what you’re doing or not doing. Stop working in the business and work on the business. Make sure you are doing the right things, and make sure you are doing them correctly. If you aren’t already doing any of the marketing activities on this page – give them a try. Why? Because we already know they work extremely well.