Six ways to find the hole in your marketing bucket

15th Aug 2011

Bryony Thomas lists the six questions brands should ask themselves to up profits without needing to outlay any cash in generating a single additional lead.

If you imagine that every time someone pays you for your products and services, they’re topping up a bucket you can quickly see how addressing any leaks can make real business sense. Asking yourself the following six questions can up your profits without needing to outlay any cash in generating a single additional lead.

1. Your product or service offer - is it something people really want to buy?

The bounce rate on your website is a pretty good indication of whether you have an issue. For every person who visits your website, comes into your shop, picks up the phone, but immediately leaves you’ve wasted time and energy and of course money.
Most often the cause of this is that your offer is too logical or features heavy but fails to immediately address an emotional need. Have a think about the thing that’s giving them a headache and show what your products or services will solve that.

2. Your quality control - is it fit for purpose?

Through the sales process, you will have made promises. These may have been implicit or explicit. Either way, your new customer now has expectations and will be judging you against them in the first few minutes, days or weeks of using your stuff. If you publish delivery times, service level agreements, etc you have to make absolutely sure you meet them or you’ll lose that hard won customer before they’ve even covered their own costs.
More than that, you need to work out what they were expecting beyond what was stated in black and white and meet that. It could be as simple as adding some ‘how to’ instructions in a welcome email or inserted with your products.

3. Your customer service - are you there to help with it?

If your customer has a problem or a query, you are effectively winning them all over again. Because if you can’t help, someone who can is rarely more than a click away. Don’t hide your customer service details away thinking that’ll save you money in reduced calls; it’s a false economy that leads to lower renewals and higher customer defection.

4. Your customer communications - do you stay in touch?

Your business is obviously important to you. But let’s be honest, your customers have better things to do with their time than keep up-to-date with what you’re up to. So you need to make doing so worth it for them. Find ways to encourage them to want to stay in touch with you. Weekly tips and tricks on a blog or a monthly newsletter with helpful guides can work really well. Gradwell, the Bath-based small business ISP, run ‘Webinar Wednesdays’ showing people how to get more from their products and services. This way, when it comes to renewal time, or you have a new product to tell them about, they’ll remember who you are and feel good about you. You won’t be starting with a blank sheet of paper.

5. Your customers’ communications - what do customers say about you?

People have always asked other people about important purchases. But these days with review sites and social media connections this is all the more evident. Your customers are highly likely to be asked their opinion by other potential buyers. If you’ve mobilised your customer communications above, you’ll at least be in their minds. But you can take it further. You can ask them to leave public endorsements on your Linkedin company page for example. And you can even set-up an affiliate scheme to reward them for referring you to others. This will be much cheaper and conversion rates are usually much higher than going after new people from cold.

6. And, the sum of all these parts and more - your brand - what do people think of when they think of your company?

All of this comes together to give a feel for what your company is like to do business with. If your offer clearly fulfils an emotional need, your quality shines through to tick those logical boxes, your service is transparent and helpful, your customers see you as the source of helpful information and they’re happy to refer you… your visual identity and language should express that. If a customer has said to a friend how you’re a great bunch of people to deal with and they then visit your site to be confronted by dense text packed with jargon and acronyms, it just won’t ring true and you’re unlikely to hear from them. So take a moment to look through their eyes. Does your company genuinely look and sound like a bunch of great people to do business with?
Getting these things right means that the time, energy and money you invest in telling people about what you have to offer is well spent. So if your bottom line could do with a boost, maybe it’s time to look at the bucket rather than more taps.
Bryony Thomas is a popular marketing speaker, writer and consultant. She specialises in helping businesses to make their marketing pay, by developing a watertight approach that delivers long-term sales results. She also runs Clear Thought Consulting, a small business marketing consultancy that specialises in marketing transformation programmes for growing businesses.

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