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
As the Internet matures do you think we will see more focus on converting traffic instead of getting traffic?
Hi Janeth, I’d like to believe we will focus more on converting than getting traffic. It’s certainly worth the effort.
Statistics show that you get a bigger return on investment from increasing your conversion rate, versus increasing your traffic. Wish I could put my finger on the statistic, but can’t find it right now — I believe I just read that recently on Bryan Eisenberg’s site.
Here’s an interesting infographic someone just sent me that makes my point above. Note where it says it costs 5 times more to get a new customer, than keep an existing one.
Great job, Barry.
I wouldn’t want to be part of the sales team that pushed the Groupon thing.
Some things work, and some thing don’t
You laid things out nicely, Barry. I trust your judgement.
The Franchise King®
Joel- just like every marketing tool, the effectivesness of Deal a Day depends how you use it!
I started a website to promote my business, and I have struggled to get visitors to the site. Your point on social media links was like a whack on the side of the head.
My link from my site to may Facebook site is useless. The Facebook site just says the same thing as my site. I need people to share the information on my site/blog with their friends who may have businesses. If a reader shares my site with their friends, I increase my visibility immensely. Like you said, “readers can spread the content for you.”
I appreciate the points you made in the article, and I intend to implement some of them immediately.
Great list Barry – align on everything, really to a “T” except for Mobile apps, mobile enabled site.
Thanks for posting this
@Woody- what is your thoughts on Mobile?
Great article Barry! Very timely and relevant information for all business owners.
Thanks for the excellent information; I’m looking forward to using these filters on a new offering from our company.
Awesome article Barry! Definitely aligns with everything I see going on in business.
True integration of all the “hot” marketing trends is key. All of the different elements need to be orchestrated for a common goal–drive sales and traffic. Good article.
Yes, integration of all the methods is key
Great list. I really like the ‘not’, for clarifying to people what is outdated. Some of my own thoughts…
Mobile websites are cheap, much more cost effective than app development for SMB’s unless you are in an industry with a plug-n-play templated app ready to go.
I believe review sites are becoming more and more relevant to a lot of industries. It would bet it will not be long before all the trip-advisors, yelps, etc. are integrated with social media and google. Reputation management will be increasingly important for SMB’s.
I couldn’t agree with you more. It’s nice how you identified each of these trends. It’s something, now that you’ve written it, seems definitely true. It’s also nice, coming from 15 years sales experience in fortune 100 companies, that direct selling is no longer the way to go. Ugh, I hated that. Anyway, nice post and much appreciated!
Ah, we all hated cold calling…I am glad its over!
Barry: As a “Certified Networker” by the Referral Institute (ReferensAkademin in Gothenburg, Sweden), I am pleased to read that you start off your list with the human “referral engine” a.k.a John Jantsch! 🙂
Anita: Your statement: “Note where it says it costs 5 times more to get a new customer, than keep an existing one.” is a long-time fact. As an experienced purchaser, I could in a short time see if a salesperson knew this statement, or not.
Joel: The Groupon is pushing the limit by cutting the margins for the companies involved in the deal. We will see sites developing in the future, that have a more integrated platform. I got an aha-moment when I listened to the interview with Phil Simon (The Age of the Platform).
Great list, with ever changing technology and the consumer still being number one.
Reflecting on the old business attitude of “take it or leave it”, what a rude awakening when clients go online to do pricing, sizing, and viewing to satisfy their needs and wants.
Yes Joan…unfortunately the monopolies in our midst still take that attidude because they have little or no competition
Great list Barry…. I for one am not a dailly dealer. I don’t believe in it for the merchant or the consumer. But, it’s nice to know Mob Manager is stepping up to the plate to clean up the mess.
Couple of additions, your thoughts – How do you see gamification fitting into this list? For SMB’s or large corps? Also, what are your thoughts on LBS – location based services – in the coming year?
Thanks for the post Barry?
Gamification needs to be part of every small business strategy as well as LBS
Bookmarked and shared! Very comprehensive. I believe what will work is the combination of traditional concepts and implement them using the existing technologies – online and interactive channels. More on relevance and authority of the information that we provide to our audience and a balance between traffic and conversion.
It is nice to read an article that sums it all up. With the speed everything is evolving at it can be hard to stay ahead.
Great article, to the point and relevant. I’m new to on-line presence so appreciate you sharing your knowledge. Thanks
Best article I have read all day! I am currently using email newsletters- still need to work on the elevator pitch. There are a lot of networking groups that have cropped up which offer referral schemes so I believe that collaborating a strong elevator pitch with this opportunity offers an excellent proposition.
I have seen a 80% rise in Google Cost Per Conversion over the last year. This makes Amazon Seller Central very appealing. I have read a lot of negative comments about doing business with Amazon. Could you please provide your thoughts? Any other sites that aren’t going to take 20% off my top line. Thanks.
Fantastic points Barry, of course it’s hard to ignore the increase of mobile searches. Having a mobile accessible website is extremely important to SEO.
Hey Barry, would love to hear more of your thoughts on the extinction of cold calling! I am not a fan of them but it’s amazing how people just assume it’s stil the most effective way to reach people ha?