Don’t get so busy with the day-to-day hustle in your business that you forget to focus your marketing activities on keeping your pipeline filled. To help you reach your monthly sales goals, I have created a list of 7 marketing techniques you should revisit in the fourth quarter of each year. They are designed to ensure that you focus on revenue-generating activities in your small business.
1. Profile Your Best Customers. Who are your most valuable and profitable customers? How much do they spend with you annually? Do they fit a niche? While it’s imperative that you understand your products and services, it’s even more significant to understand what value your business brings to your customers so you can continue fulfilling their needs. Business issues can change quickly, making vendors potentially interchangeable. Be sure to thank your customers; no one owes you business.
2. Talk With Your Clients. If your three most important customers were sitting in a room with you, what questions would you ask them? Even with your long-time customers, schedule a quarterly face-to-face meeting to ask for feedback or just to catch up. You must stay on top of their needs and understand any new factors that influence their decision-making processes. Have 10 questions to ask, and then make sure you engage them around some personal small talk: kids, vacations, holiday plans, etc. The more personal the relationship, the more that relationship will allow you to obtain critical information and a strong ally.
3. Align Marketing Efforts With Your Sales Goals. Sales and marketing have to work together in your small business. Even if you are the only salesperson in your business and you also handle the marketing efforts, you must plan your marketing program based on the amount sales leads you need to generate in order to close the required amount of sales per month. If you know you need 500 leads per month in order to close 50 sales, then determine how many phone calls, e-mails, blog posts, Facebook ads and Twitter messages must be made, sent or posted per month to drive the desired traffic. You must establish a sales process and then proactively work your marketing efforts so that they generate the desired results.
4. Never Take Your Eye Off the Competition. Identify several competitors. Discover what benefits they provide to their current customers. Use their websites to gain insights. Compare your branding, value proposition and pricing. Based on your assessment, develop at least three strategies that you will use to position yourself effectively against them. Always think, “What is my signature move?”
5. Create Win-Win Relationships. “Give to get” is a motto that works well in business. A strong strategic alliance offers many benefits, including reducing risk, sharing costs and improving time to market. How can you develop a partnership that can contribute to your bottom line? Always go into a relationship understanding your partner’s “must have” list. It’s always best when you can find a partner who is not a direct competitor.
6. Refine Your 30-Second Commercial or Elevator Pitch. Your most important job as a small business owner is selling yourself and your business. When you can succinctly explain your business, it builds trust, but you shouldn’t use the same pitch forever. From time to time, switch it up a little. Add a brief client list; mention a recent award or media hit. Elevator pitches are designed to draw in your target and keep the dialogue going. Be careful not to give TMI (too much information). Offer just enough to get them interested in chatting with you again.
7. Use a Vision Board. All businesses have ups and downs. How you get through the tough days in your business makes a big difference in your productivity. One of the tricks I use and advise all my coaching clients to use is to develop a vision board of your big picture goals for your life. If you are successful the way your business plan projects, what are the 10 things you want out of life? Create a visual representation of your list. Use cutouts from magazines or clip art pictures–whatever it takes develop a visual symbol of your personal goals. Post this collage to remind yourself why you work so hard. Ten reasons will keep you motivated on good days as well as bad ones!
By implementing these marketing techniques, you will be able to evaluate the effectiveness of your marketing strategy and keep yourself motivated to stay on top of your sales processes.
Do you have any marketing tactics that have worked to ignite sales in your small business?
I love the whole post, but I’m going through points 1 and 2 right now with two clients of mine. It is so important to keep in touch, even when you’re not selling. Social media has made it so easy to stay in the know with what your network is doing and it makes for great conversation starters as well as deeper ones.
Keep up the useful posts please.
Great points Melinda. In my experience, consistency has been the key to selling, and all of these steps are part of the process. You just have to make sure you’re putting in the time and effort to keep the funnel filled.
Excellent post Melinda. With everything that small business owners must deal with on a day to day basis it’s easy to overlook basic sales. We especially like #2, customer feedback is crucial.
Awesome post< Melinda!
Love to meet you, someday.
(You should write more)
The Franchise King
One of the biggest things I think small businesses fail to think about is retaining the customers they already have instead of focusing on bringing on new customers.
If you can show true value in your service or product, then your current customers will keep pushing you that monthly check. They will also refer clients to you if they see that they are being taken care of.
Let your customers make your sales for you.
Another very solid and useful post, Melinda!
Our most successful tactic has been turning our customers into fans. We’ve done that by listening to them and responding to their suggestions, comments, and complaints.
The days of one-way communication are long over. Active and interested interaction via phone, email, and all forms of social media goes a long way toward creating enthusiastic customers that do a lot of your selling for you.
While keeping our eyes focused on our competition, we keep our ears open to our customers.
Love the vision board idea because you can never go too far off the path when you’re focused on the destination.
I agree 100%. Points one and two are keys to success that many companies overlook because they’re so focused on always acquiring new business. Thanks for that important reminder and I love the idea of asking prospects what’s on their “must have” list. It certainly keeps the conversation and direction focused.
Melinda Emerson "SmallBizLady"
TJ & Robert– Thanks for your comments. I am glad these points resonant with you and what your trying to do with your clients. It think its important to review the fundamentals sometimes to get a clear plan for moving forward.
Entreprenant– Customer feedback is a critical component of small business success, in order to keep a customer you must know what you are doing right and wrong. Thanks for commenting.
Joel– I’d love to meet you too. I am a big fan of your work. You are the @franchiseking 🙂 Thank you for your kinds words about my writing.
Trey– I totally agree with you. It’s cheaper to keep her or him as a customer. When you can get repeat business that’s when you have a real business. Thanks for your comment.
Jim– I love that you said “we keep our eyes focused on our competition, we keep our ears open to our customers.” That is exactly what success businesses do. Thanks for your comment.
Scott— The Vision Board is the finished product of the life planning process which I highly recommend for start-up and existing entrepreneurs. You need to have goals for your life and then build a business around that. You also need a physical reminder of your life plan, so you can remember why you work so hard. Thanks for your comment.
Great post! As a sales veteran I especially like the emphasis of the concept of sales is about win-win. To be successful in the long run it is important that the customer comes out winning as well as your company. If both sides wins it will lead to a happy customer, more sales, profitability etc…
“Create Win-Win Relationships” feels the best part of tips.
Ive never heard of a vision board but it sounds like a good idea. I will give it ago now.
Great article Melinda. This is a powerful reminder that all marketing efforts need to be purposeful and with an end resolve in mind. With laser intentional focus, on what you do and why, you can change your bottom line more quickly than you ever thought possible! Thanks again.
Great suggestions! Timeless advice.