1. Give it away now -
Giving and sharing aren't exclusive to the holiday season. Share your knowledge FOR FREE with all of your customers and anyone else that wants to listen to you. Look, you're probably an expert in your field and have a number of great ideas and advice that would really help your customers out - write them down and pass them along to people as much as possible. Show your customers that you are dedicated to helping them and that you are an expert in your field.
Communicating on a consistent basis is one of the best ways to build your business. If you stop communicating with your customers, you'll start becoming invisible. Invisibility is good if you are a superhero, not if you are running a business.
When you couple communication with providing valuable information that would help your customers improve their lives, you really kick your marketing into high gear. Consider starting a newsletter, offering free reports on your web site or creating a direct mail advice campaign. Share your expertise with your customers frequently, authentically and honestly - it'll help establish you as a caring, knowledgeable expert and keep you in the forefront of your customers’ minds. To see what I've done in this area, you can visit http://www.candographics.com to sign up for the Can-Do Confidence Builder.
2. Stand Behind
Have you ever heard, “I'll just stick with what I have" from a prospect? Chances are that if you've been in business long, you have. Even if doing business with you is clearly the better option, sometimes people will just stick with what they have. Why? Often times you'll find it boils down to risk; people don't like risk, so they try to minimize it when possible. Help people minimize risk by standing behind your product or service and offer a guarantee. Visit http://www.candographics.com to see my guarantee.
3. Encourage People to Spread the Word
If your business thrives on referrals, develop a program that rewards people for stepping out of their way to send business to you. Develop an easy to follow, understandable and convenient referral program for your customers - and make sure they know about it. Take a proactive, rather than reactive approach in obtaining more referrals. Give customers a way to easily refer prospects to you, tell your customers about it and reward them for it. If you'd like to see my referral program, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I'll send you my 1 page referral program pdf document.
4. Get Consistent
Everyone knows that first impressions are critical. Did you know that your customers make up their mind about your business in a matter of seconds? We all do this, and we all know that first impressions have to be good ones; the trick is you don't know which impression is going to be first. Prospects might see your logo first, your web site, a sign, or a brochure, so it's important that ALL of them project a clear, professional message to your prospects.
Your marketing materials and company identity are telling a story to your customer: how professional you are, how quality conscious you are and how unique you are. What do your marketing materials and company identity say to customers? If you've never asked them, you should! Take inventory of all of your marketing and collateral materials; line them up on your desk. Do they all tell a consistent, professional story about your business? Are they projecting the image you want to send to your customers? Be honest with yourself, and if they aren't projecting the professional, consistent image your company deserves, contact a business savvy designer to help you.
5. Make the Commitment
You've been hearing this one ever since you were little, “Save your pennies for a rainy day". Smart business owners know that marketing and design are necessities; they devote a certain percentage of every sale to growing their company. You can do this too, just take 10% of your revenue and dedicate it to marketing efforts, improving your brand image and growing your business. You've heard the term, “If you're not growing, you're dying", make sure you do this for yourself and your company - you're both worth it.
6. Ask Your Customers
Your customers are an absolute goldmine of information, and business owners often ignore them. Who better to ask how you are doing, what you need improvement on and what additional products/services you need to offer than asking your customers? It's easy to overlook your customers when developing strategy. By including the very people that support your business in your strategies, you will avoid the mistake that most owners make in thinking they know more than their customers. You know better than that, and here's the great news, the information they give you is free!
Tell your customers that you'd like to ask them a few questions that will help you provide better products and services in the future. Ask them when a convenient time would be for them, develop a short list of questions to ask them and of course thank them for their time and ideas.
As we all look to the promise of a new year, take a moment to look how far you've come and plan where you want to go in 2006. This is a time of great excitement and hope for everyone running a business. If you hadn't included these approaches into your strategy last year, now would be a perfect time to integrate them into your business. If you have any questions, comments or if you found this article helpful, give me a shout at 480-391-0704, or email me at email@example.com. Happy and prosperous 2006.
Jeremy runs the only business savvy graphic design firm who helps companies build more confidence and credibility into their business identities. “I help you take your business’ vision and shape it into a company identity that will make you look better, feel better and have more confidence about your business. ”
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