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Customers are the lifeblood of any business and without them no company can survive. So how do you go about getting (and keeping) customers?

Finding customers is the key to running a successful business and all highly successful businesses are good at marketing. This doesn’t mean that you need to spend thousands on an expensive marketing campaign. There is a tremendous amount of money wasted on advertising and it’s frustrating when you find the return on investment (ROI) is non-existent. However, there are many ways of avoiding costly mistakes and there are marketing strategies which are available at little or no cost.

Here are some suggestions for increasing your customer base at very little cost:

Actively promote recommendations

The best advert for your business occurs when a satisfied customer gives your name to one of their friends, relations or business contacts, endorsing your service. Few are likely to do so unless you ask or encourage them though of course a dissatisfied customer will spread their opinion without being asked!

The best time to ask customers for a reference is at the point where you have completed your work to their satisfaction and they are enthusiastic about you. Simply ask them to think of anyone they know who might benefit from your services and tell them how to refer such people to you. Perhaps you could advise them to direct people to your website in the first instance.

You could also consider referral incentives such as a discount voucher. This kind of reward is likely to encourage people to pass on your details.

Promote your business through networking

Networking is all about developing your business contacts and building your profile. Remember that it’s a two way process of giving and getting. There are various places you can go to do this, including speed networking events, lunches, trade shows, conferences, presentations and more.

Do some research and try to pick the events that will suit your business and those which will generate useful contacts. Remember that everyone is there for the same reason, so don’t be afraid to ask questions. Resist the temptation to simply talk about yourself and your business and speak to as many people as you can. Try to have a short statement prepared about what your business does. If you can speak confidently about your company, it will grab people’s attention.

Concentrate on building rapport, not selling and remember to take some business cards with your contact details and company name on them.

Once you have made contact with people and have their details, remember to follow up with a call or a short email or letter.

Build ‘host relationships’

Forming relationships with businesses that are not in direct competition with you can be a mutually beneficial way of increasing your customer base. For example, a conservatory company might want to form a host relationship with local builders or landscape gardeners. You will be able to refer potential customers to the partner business and they can do the same.

You may want to leave some of your business cards with the company to give to their customers when the opportunity arises, and agree to do the same for them. However, be careful if you intend to recommend another business to your customers, you might not be able to vouch for the quality of their work and you don’t want someone else’s mistakes reflecting badly on your business.

Create a newsletter

These can be distributed to your customers monthly or quarterly, free of charge, either by email or by post. It’s a good way of keeping your goods or services at the forefront of your customers’ minds and can act as bait to attract new business.

Decide on a name that suits your business: something snappy and informative, that’s easy to say and spell. The content can be made up of news, ideas and tips, answers to questions, offers or recommendations. Whatever you chose, try to keep it short and simple, two pages of A4 at the most, and choose a writing style that suits your business; you might want to write in a personal style or more seriously depending on the service you provide.

All of the tips above can be used in conjunction with each other and provide a sound method of increasing your company’s profile and generating new and repeat business.

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3 Responses to “Marketing on a Budget”

  1. Good Post with information simple and true

  2. David Irwin says:

    Again some very good points. Thanks.

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