By Lisa Vincent, Nwes Business Advisor
Right, you’re all set. You’ve registered your business, you have a plan. You have the premises, all the equipment you need and, of course, you have the passion. Now what? Now you need customers and lots of them! But how do you make sure you get as many sales as possible? It’s simple really, the more people you engage with, the more sales you’ll make.
Get on the line!
This is the twenty first century! If you own a business, you have absolutely no excuse for not having an online presence. Even if it’s only one page, with company information and contact details, it’s essential. If customers can’t find you online, you can bet they’ll find someone else pretty quickly. And of course, if you’re selling online, you’ll need to keep those search engines happy. Don’t be frightened. There’s a whole heap of basic information available, or speak to your local friendly web developer.
Social media is a really cost effective way to engage with a large number of potential customers and it doesn’t have to take up hours of your time. Try not to be too sales focused and instead share useful information that people will want to read. Don’t be frightened; every expert was once a beginner. Get yourself a little bit of help and advice and you’ll be blogging your way around Twitter and Facebook in no time.
Network, network, network.
Networking is all about building relationships, and building relationships starts with talking to people. You can go to some of the many formal networking events on offer, or you can chat to people in the pub, it’s all networking. It’s just as important to network with similar businesses within your industry, and even competitors, as it is potential customers. That way, you’ll have your finger on the pulse, your ear to the ground and you’ll be able to react quickly to opportunities as they arise. Remember, networking is as much about listening as it is about talking!
Shout about your business
There are so many ways to advertise and get your message out. The most successful businesses are the ones you’ll see advertising all the time. But remember, this will normally be on the back of a well thought out and carefully planned campaign. Don’t waste your money placing a one off advert, unless you have something very specific to offer. Find out about the audience and reach before committing to any space and always measure any costs against ROI.
Keep in touch
Sending out regular email newsletters is a fantastic, low cost way to keep in touch. Keep it short and interesting, with details of special offers. Include links to your web page and social media. Don’t worry about people unsubscribing. If they do, they were probably not going to buy from you anyway.
Tell your story
You can generate oodles of free publicity with some good PR. Newspapers, magazines and local radio are constantly on the lookout for relevant content. If you have a news story, tell local media all about it. But keep it interesting. Try to think out of the box and make it quirky. The chances of it getting published will be much higher if you’d be interested if it was about somebody else.
Make an exhibition of yourself
Trade shows and fairs will help to get exposure for your business. Use them to collect customer data and build your list. Think about running a prize draw or give away free samples to entice people to sign up.
Be an expert
Being helpful is worth its weight in gold. It’s a fact, we like to buy from companies we know and trust. The more you are able to demonstrate your expertise and knowledge, the more customers will be likely to buy from, and recommend, your business. Commenting in forums online is a good place to start.
Make a contribution
Writing a blog or contributing to a local publication is another way to build on your company’s reputation and brand. This also gives people an idea of what you’re like to work with. 95% of buying decisions are based on an emotional reaction; if customers like you, they will be more likely to buy from you.
Make that call
Most people would rather poke sticks in their eyes than make a cold call! The trick is to be confident and have a purpose. If people don’t want to talk to you, don’t take it personally. Always agree an outcome before hanging up: a date to call them back, a date to meet or agree to remove them from your list.
Remember, not everything will work as well for one business as it does for another. Think of your marketing plan as the ingredients for your ‘sales cake’. Experiment, play, measure what works for you and ditch what doesn’t. But most of all have fun! For more marketing ideas visit http://www.marketingdonut.co.uk/