Finding more customers...on a shoestring
Some large and well-established companies enjoy huge marketing budgets. They employ teams of people to hire the top agencies to create multi-million dollar campaigns. As a result, there’s hardly a person in the world unfamiliar with the company or its products. However, for most companies, the story is very different.
Marketing budgets are a luxury and hiring agencies is the stuff of dreams. Despite this, they still need to attract customers as, without customers, there’s unlikely to be a business for very long. So, how can a cash-strapped enterprise find more precious customers with scant resources? The following tips may help.
Just as people feel compelled to tell their friends and neighbours about any poor service they’ve received, they can’t help relaying genuinely outstanding service. For this to work as a tactic to attract customers, a company needs to aim beyond simply ‘good’ service. It needs to think about how to make the service it offers truly memorable for its customers.
Not everyone is a natural salesperson who feels comfortable asking for someone’s business. But, if you encourage your employees to have this attitude, it can pay dividends. By simply encouraging your people to ask customers if they know anyone else who may be interested in your products or services, you can dramatically increase your customer base. And if that feels a little too awkward, simply encourage your customers to tell their friends about you.
People often find networking uncomfortable. However, if done well it can be both fruitful and pleasant. For it to be successful, you need to create a situation whereby those you speak with are keen to spread good messages about you to their contacts. The best way to achieve this is through the concept of reciprocity. Instead of focusing on what others can do for you, put your efforts into how you can help others. What can you do to help them find you customers? Who do you know that you can put them in touch with? Who can you recommend them to? Once people see you helping them, they will be very keen to help you find more customers in return.
Advertising is expensive and is somewhat limited in effect because the customer knows he is being sold to. However, an article in trade press, written by an objective and impartial journalist, can be extremely powerful, not just because readers will see it and trust it, but also because you can forward the article to customers as a way to generate more interest.
For PR to be effective, though, you need to invest time: time to build a relationship with journalists and time to feed them creative and interesting stories that would appeal to their readers.
Highlight genuine USP
Finally, in a world where there seems to be unlimited information and options, you need to stand out from the crowd. Invest time and effort in identifying and highlighting your genuine USP. Potential customers must be able to see you and think of you immediately as the go-to people for a particular product or service. If you blend into the same landscape as all of your competitors, you will never attract enough new customers to flourish and grow.
Heather Foley is a consultant at www.etsplc.com.
ETS has been a partner to some of the world’s most respected companies since 1989, delivering specialist consultancy and leading edge technology in the following areas: employee research and engagement, leadership development...