The techniques that are effective to keep and get new customers continues to radically change. In 2012, they will evolve even more. Here is what’s going to be hot (and what’s not) in the year to come.
1. Direct Selling
- Not: It used to be that every sales effort started from picking up the phone to “cold call” an industry list. This is no longer effective (partially since no one ever answers their phone!) Besides being a waste of time, the fear of rejection makes this scary to actually do.
- Hot: We are in the referral economy as John Jantsch frequently discusses. A company can automatically get put in the “maybe” pile for the a sale when a connector or past customer refers that business to another prospect. Don’t be afraid to always ask for a referral or reference. Satisfied customers almost always are happy to give them.
2. Deal-a-Day Websites
- Not: Offering coupons alone through Groupon , Living Social  and other daily deal mechanism is not effective long term. This may get an immediate cash flow bump for your business, but it kills the gross margin or may even may make this particular transaction unprofitable.
- Hot: When these daily offers are used to attract new customers and then retain a lifetime value relationship, they can be worthwhile. Businesses are now turning to companies like Mob Manager  that help follow up daily deal purchases with multiple emails that build a future relationship.
3. Giving Your Pitch
- Not: Trying to sell a product because it will make the future customer “better” no longer is compelling.
- Pain Killers: Every company needs a targeted “elevator pitch” that focuses on the pain the business solves for the customer that has the money. People always buy when they are in pain. JJ Ramberg gives some great guidelines on building your elevator pitch in her OPEN Forum Crash Course .
4. Generating Web Traffic
- Not: Using an outrageous YouTube video or other social media stunt that has nothing to do with your business to get website traffic that visits once and never comes again is ineffective. One and done also becomes very expensive.
- Hot: Building long-term relationships by consistently giving value through email is important. Common email marketing tools used at low cost are Vertical Response , Constant Contact  and Mail Chimp . Developing your own house email list from those who are interested in your content is key.
5. Using Pay-Per-Click
- Not: Experimenting with pay-per-click by using Google Adwords , Yahoo! Search Marketing or Microsoft adCenter  without really understanding how a comprehensive campaign works is a money waster. It only results in high priced ads and low conversion rates.
- Hot: Hiring a certified pay-per-click professional who actually does know how to drive qualified traffic on a budget will yield improved results.
6. It’s Still the Web
- Not: Ignoring the Internet because it is not “relevent” to a local brick and mortar business or a professional services provider is a big mistake. In 2012, if your business is not on the Web, it doesn’t exist in the minds of most consumers.
- Hot: Claiming your company’s local listings from Google, Bing and Dex Knows  by verifying that all information is correct. Optimize your website for local shoppers who do research online but want to buy from a physical location.
7. More Mobile
- Not: Your company website is not visible or usable from mobile PDA and tablet devices.
- Hot: Having an “app for that” on major platforms like iPhone and Android. Prospects should be able to access information on your company through a mobile application that looks good on their phone or tablet.
8. The Social Media Hard Sell
- Not: Attempting to use Twitter, LinkedIn or Facebook or other social media for a hard sell or spamming.
- Hot: Think social CRM. Use social media to make others aware of your expertise. Helpful conversations will develop loyal bonds from people who want to hear more from you.
9. More Content
- Not: Putting up a blog every week and thinking that’s enough to spread your company’s message. If you build it, they really don’t come.
- Hot: Include the latest sharing buttons so readers can spread the content for you. The hot sharing buttons for 2012 are Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn (for B2B businesses) and Google+, plus other selected ones specific to your industry or type of site. The ShareThis  widget is an easy way to add these capabilities to any site.
What do you think is hot for 2012?
Hot or Not Photo  via Shutterstock