Smarter Marketing - Your Customers, Products And Services
Existing Customers, Products and Services
In the second of a three-part article, we will discuss the next two resources that will make successful marketing possible for your business, whatever your budget may be. We have already discussed the #1 marketing resource that every business already has at its disposal - Positioning - that can build your brand or successfully at low cost or no cost at all. Now, let's cover two more.
Resource 2. Existing Customers
Many companies put their focus first and foremost on trying to market to new prospects, but I contend that the key to success is to market to existing customers and let them help you bring in new prospects. In fact, statistics indicate it costs 6-9 times more to attract a new client than to keep an existing client happy. You as women business owners can grow your businesses faster - and less expensively - by marketing to your existing clients.
It's all about creating a dialogue and building a relationship (especially with women owned businesses). So, it's key to keep your business or brand name in front of your clients regularly. That way, when the need for your product or service arises again, yours is the first business that comes into your customer's mind.
What are some inexpensive ways to do that? Provide regular two-way communications with your existing customers in the form of a newsletter or regular e-mails where you can offer them important industry updates. Make sure to keep existing customers aware of any new products you are offering and/or of any new product or service improvements.
Make sure your existing customers are happy with your offerings. How can you be sure existing clients will keep coming back for more?
Get to know them and their needs as well as you know your own business. If you don't have the money for a full-blown market research initiative, and you don't have the time to sit down with every customer and ask questions, you can still:
- Do DIY Focus Groups- Informal, in-house research sessions are ideal for testing new products, understanding attitudes, and getting immediate feedback.
- Treat Complaints Like Gold - A dissatisfied customer is your best resource for information on how to make your business better. Make it easy for customers to complain, and watch for trends.
- "Man on the Street" Interviews - Ask prospects, new customers, and returning buyers about any unmet needs they might have.
Resource 3. Products and Services
I'm always surprised by the number of people who tell me they don't regularly use the products or services they market. This is a big mistake. There's nothing like personal experience to help you form an opinion. As such, your company's offerings are a continuous source of inexpensive marketing information.
Give your products and services a regular "test drive" and look at them with the fresh eyes of a prospect. Your never-used-this-before perspective will help you scrutinize every aspect of what you sell, giving you insights about potentially vital improvements.
Better yet, get some unbiased people to "mystery shop" your products and services and hear what they think. No one on your staff should know those individuals are mystery shoppers - they should remain anonymous - then ask them to use your products or services, write up what the experience was like, and share it with you. It doesn't cost you much, and you're likely to glean great new perspectives from it.
And, of course, it's also important to be honest about whether your products or services are "truly" superior to the competition. Are you really selling a better mousetrap? If you are, is that superiority immediately visible and noticeable? If you do have superiority that is noticeably different to your customer in a single use, get your product in the hands of potential customers - even if you have to give it away free the first time. If it's that good, customers will be back for more.
If you don't have superiority, or if your superiority is hard to prove, create or focus on a meaningful point of difference. Find a niche need in the marketplace, and cater to the people who need exactly what you have to offer. Turn that into a competitive advantage, and make it ownable/exclusive.
Brenda Bence is an internationally-recognized branding expert, certified executive coach, professional speaker, and award-winning author of the How YOU™ Are Like Shampoo personal branding book series. As President of Brand Development Associates International Ltd. Brenda now travels the world speaking, training, and coaching individuals and companies to greater success through corporate and personal brand development.