Market Your Business on a Small Budget

To get customers you have to market your business. There is just no way around it. Enlisting the help from a marketing firm is one option but if you don’t have a lot of money to spend, you need to find creative and inexpensive ways to get your brand out there. Here are some inexpensive ideas to market your business you can do yourself! Social Media Almost everyone is on social media and your business should be too! Post regularly to keep customers interested and engaged. This will also help build brand awareness. Some social media sites allow users to leave reviews so encourage customers to share their experience on your profile. Website Every business (big or small) needs a website! Your mission should be clear and include (at least) basic information about your products or services. Your contact info, location and hours should be easy to find and you may also want to include customer testimonials, a blog, and your social media links. The most effective websites utilize SEO (Search Engine Optimization), which in basic terms means the process of making your website pages appear in a search engine’s unpaid results. Click here for more information on SEO. Business Partnerships Another inexpensive way to market your business is to team up with other local businesses to promote each other’s work. Create partnerships that make sense. For example, if you’re a painter, try partnering with a paint provider. Yesterday I saw a commercial on tv promoting 1-year of free pizza with a purchase of a new mattress… Does that seem like an odd partnership or what?! Today, I passed a gas...

Why Your Emails Need an Unsubscribe or Opt-Out Option

Have you ever signed up for emails about something you were interested in at the time, but aren’t interested in now? If so, then you will understand the value of an unsubscribe or opt-out option. A couple years ago I was shopping for a new washer and dryer, so I subscribed to several email lists. One contained consumer reviews, a couple more were for special offers from stores. The reviews were helpful and I used a special sale email to get the best deal. But now, 2 years later, I’m no longer shopping for appliances.  The emails are no longer relevant and I don’t care to read them.   Make it easy for your readers to unsubscribe or opt-out from your emails. This is necessary to prevent recipient frustration and SPAM reports.   Of course you don’t want people to unsubscribe from your email communications. The idea is to grow your email list to reach more and more people, expanding your business, right? While that is the ultimate goal, the process is not always straightforward. The most effective email lists aren’t necessarily the largest. The most effective lists contain readers who are interested in the information you send them. If a reader doesn’t need your product or service, they aren’t likely to give you any business. Worse than that, they may get tired of receiving your emails and label it as SPAM. In email, as in life, reputation is everything. Every time someone reports your email as SPAM, your email reputation takes a hit. For this reason, it is important to make it easy for readers to unsubscribe or opt-out...

Positioning Your Brand, Company, and Customers for Success!

We’ve talked a lot about customer success beginning with customer trust and a great onboarding process. Let’s take a step back and discuss the importance of brand positioning.   What is Brand Positioning? Positioning your company helps establish your product or service in the eyes of the customer. Brand positioning also provides your company with direction and differentiation. You need to first identify what makes you different from your competitors and then continually push those unique qualities to your customers.   When determining your company’s unique position, think about these questions:   What makes your product or service unique? What do you specialize in? Is it providing great customer service? Do you pay close attention to small details? Are you great at communicating and building positive relationships with customers? These are the things that will set you apart.   Who is your target audience or market? Let’s look at 2 possible markets that a paint contractor might target: High-end Homeowners vs. Rental Property Owners These groups want different things. In order to communicate in a compelling way, you need to understand what motivates each group and what they value. High-end homeowners may value quality workmanship, while rental property owners may care more about how quickly the job can be completed. Identify your target audience. Survey existing clients in your target market to find out what motivates them to buy.   How will you reach your target customers? This relates to both advertising AND project-related communication. For example, if the majority of your target audience found your business on the internet, email communications make sense.   What are your customers really buying from...

Great Customer Onboarding: WHY and HOW

How do you ensure customer success? Begin with great customer onboarding!     Long-term customer success builds customer trust, which we talked about last time as being a major factor to growing your business. It should start early and be consistent. Today we’re going to talk about the early factor of customer success: the onboarding process.   Great Customer Onboarding includes two things: 1.  Customer interest (i.e. They request a bid for a project.) 2. Seeing value (i.e. The customer sees value in your brand after they have interacted with you in some way.) Much like building customer trust, great customer onboarding is a process and the results should keep your business thriving.   1. Define expectations and set goals Great customer onboarding begins by asking questions. What is the ultimate goal? What does your customer want as the end result? What is their timeframe? Then make a plan to achieve these goals. This will require setting milestones, or goal deadlines. Reaching each milestone will show a succession of success. Consider sending new clients an email as soon as they schedule an appointment for a meeting or estimate. In this email, lay out what the client should expect from the meeting and what information they should be prepared to provide. Positioning emails like this immediately establish an open line of communication, set expectations, and build customer trust. Plus it shows your detailed and organized!   2. Customize the experience Individualize each of your customers and make them feel valued and at home. This should be basic practice for all of your customers and will mostly be based on the...

The 3 C’s of Customer Trust

When your air conditioner stops working in the middle of summer, you REALLY want an HVAC tech on speed dial. We have one (shout out to Leonard!). We got his name from my brother-in-law. The first time Leonard came to our house was on a Sunday (yes, Sunday!) in July. He fixed the problem and earned our trust.     Customer trust is so vital to a successful business that we can sometimes take it for granted. The same way we don’t think about breathing. Earning customer trust creates the opportunity for repeat business. It also opens the door for new business through referrals and reviews. Of course being good at what you do doesn’t hurt, but the number one key in building any relationship – business or otherwise – is trust. Am I right? There’s no secret to earning customer trust. The components of customer trust are simple: Customer Service, Consistency, and Clarity. The 3 C’s of Customer Trust   Customer Service When building customer trust, a great place to start is offering exceptional service. Think about how you would like to be treated if you were the customer. That doesn’t mean you have to work on Sundays. It means you should establish expectations and stick to them. If you tell clients you’ll return calls on the same day, then you need to do that. Good customer service should come naturally and not be strategically planned, although having guidelines in place for your employees to follow is helpful.   Consistency If you have systems in place to provide customers with consistent interactions, that will help to establish you...