By Startup Expert Roger Pierce, www.BizLaunch.ca
The marketing plan for your new small business is the most important part of your business plan. After all, without customers, you won’t have much of a business to run. Unfortunately, many small business owners just focus on acquiring new customers and ignore strategies to get more business from existing ones.
It’s a well-know marketing fact that strategies designed to reach existing customers are far less expensive than strategies to attract new customers. Why? You’re preaching to the converted. Existing customers are already familiar with your business through prior experience, and – hopefully – already trust your products or services. New or ‘non’ customers have no such experience with you, and therefore it requires more energy and money to attract them.
In marketing, there are only four ways to build your business sales:
- Get more customers. A startup business needs to focus on getting new customers. The most expensive strategy of the four presented here, you really have no choice if you’ve just launched your venture. Invest some of your dollars in well-targeted advertisements, brochures, direct mail, a website and sales calls. Consider offering a discount, free sample or money-back guarantee to encourage prospects to try you out. Once you’ve got some customers, you can implement the following three strategies.
- Help your customer to buy more. Considered a ‘volume’ strategy, it’s always easier to encourage a customer to spend a little more at the time of purchase. Use suggestive selling to offer an additional product or service to complement their purchase. Stereo stores sell warranties. Convenience stores display chocolate bars and gum near the cash register. Fast food restaurants ask, “Do you want fries with that?”
- Help your customer to buy more often. ‘Frequency’ strategies keep customers coming back to buy from your business again and again. Find or create reasons for your customers to return week after week or month after month. For example, Mr. Lube reminds you to change your automobile oil and filter every 5000 kilometers by placing a simple sticker on your windshield.
- Keep your existing customers happy. It’s far more expensive to chase new customers than it is to keep your existing ones happy. So, overwhelm your customers with attention and value-added services. Let your customers know how much you appreciate their business, again and again. “Loyalty” programs can include some kind of tangible gift, discount offer, rewards card, special event, free service, or a simple note to say “thank you for your business.”
Want to learn more? Catch the free BizLaunch Seminar ‘How to Create Your Million $ Idea’ in Ottawa on Monday, March 31, 6:30 – 8 p.m., Ottawa Main Library, 120 Metcalfe Street, Room 1. To find out more, please visit www.BizLaunch.ca/bellseminars.