Just last week, I had a conversation with a local business owner who admitted one of his biggest mistakes was putting the brakes on his marketing efforts. The economy got tough back in 2008-10, and he got hammered. Thankfully, he managed to weather the storm, and he’s still pushing forward. His business is leaner because of letting go of staff, but his business has survived.
Far too many small to mid-sized businesses are still struggling to see the kind of growth they hoped for when they started their business.
In this blog post, I’m going to cover the 4 critical systems every business needs to have operating in order to thrive in ANY economic climate.
95% of small businesses are missing at least 2 of the 4 systems required to have any lasting chance of growth and increasing profits. These systems have become increasingly important because of a changing economy, and advances in technology.
Right at the top of the list is how consumers find and shop for services today. Many small business owners have been slow to adapt. In part, that’s due to a large number running on shoestring budgets, and having limited resources to stay on top of the constant changes.
3 Drivers of Change
Here are the 3 things that are having the largest impact on how business is done in today’s marketplace:
- Search – it has become the dominant way to search for products, services, and local places of business.
- Social – people connect online and share their opinions about their buying experiences. Twenty years ago, a business owner had more control about what was said about their operation. Social media has flipped the script. 88% of consumers trust online reviews just as much as personal recommendations. Yesterday, you had to do good business. Today, you have to stay on top of what’s being said about you online.
- Mobile – as if search and social weren’t enough. This is the BIGGEST GAME CHANGER of all. Mobile provides immediate gratification. Today’s consumer is no longer chained to a desktop. They walk into a place of business, and comparison shopping right on the sales floor. If they find what they perceive to be a greater value before pulling the debit card out… that business owner loses the sale.
Here’s a perfect example of search results hungry consumers find when searching Google for the phrase “Japanese steakhouse Atlanta”.
I’m taking the time to point this out because it’s directly connected with one of the 4 critical systems every business owners needs to have in their business.
The first system I’m talking about is REPUTATION. Everyone understands the power of positive word of mouth advertising. It can make or break your business, especially when you’re new and advertising budgets are small to non-existent. Knowing how to build an establish a 5-star reputation is critical to the success of any endeavor in today’s marketplace.
A local business driving thousands of visitors to the web is no good if their reputation is anything less than 4 stars. People think two and three times before spending time and money at a place with a lack-luster reputation.
Having a stellar reputation is paramount to being successful in today’s marketplace. To do so, business owners need to establish a system for collecting, marketing, and managing their reputation.
Once a business has a 5-star reputation, the second thing they must have is REACH. What good is it for a company to do a better job cleaning carpets than any of their competitors, if no one knows about them?
When a small business owner wants to extend their reach, they’re looking for additional media choices to communicate their message.
5 Media Channels to Extend Reach
- Facebook Pay-Per-Click (PPC) – business owners who are successful go where the consumers are. With Facebook’s Audience Insights, there is a wealth of information to build targeted ad campaigns geared to deliver exceptional ROI.
- Google Adwords PPC – still a leading way to drive targeted traffic to your website. People searching on Google for products and service are proven to take action shortly after searching. This is an ideal place to be found for all national and local business owners
- Display Ads (Local and National) – small local business owners can now run display ads to consumers right in their own backyard.
- Twitter Ads – I haven’t ventured into Twitter Ads yet, but one of my mentors uses them regularly and sees a positive ROI when doing so. I wouldn’t sleep on Twitter ads.
- LinkedIn Ads – while I haven’t started using these yet, LinkedIn is the world’s largest online social network for professionals. A couple years ago, I saw where the average registered member of LinkedIn had a gross annual income of approximately $107,000. There’s a lot to be said for getting your message in front of an audience with that kind of buying power.
Each of those is a means to extend the reach a small business has. The key is to understand who the ideal consumer is, where they hang out online, and what message is going to resonate most with them.
The third system top prioritize in your business is one to RESELL. The most difficult sale to make is the first one. Consumers with no track record of trust and rapport cost the most to bring in the front door… both online and offline. However, once they have made a purchase, it’s a lot easier to bring them back for additional products and services.
Where many Atlanta small business owners fall down here is not having a system in place to continually engage their customer base. I’ve spoken with multiple independent professionals who don’t even have a customer relationship management system (CRM) like Salesforce, or Pipedrive. Years ago, I used Zoho CRM. Today I use Pipedrive. It’s very intuitive, and affordable.
Every local and small business should have a means to capture the critical information necessary to build a relationship with their customer base. These include a CRM and an autoresponder for online marketing. Online, we use GetResponse.
3 Steps for Reselling Past Customers
- Capture – an effective small business marketing strategy will plan for capturing the email address and name of each visitor in order to engage in follow-up marketing via email.
- Communicate – show your customers you care by communicating with them on a regular basis. Find ways to add value to their lives.
- Reward – let your customers and clients know you care by rewarding them with promotions that aren’t made available to the public.
The last system is about getting REFERRALS. If you’re delivering great service, about 15-20% of your customer base will be raving fans. They’re already telling family, friends, and co-workers about the products and services they think highly of. That percentage can be increased if they’re given the right incentive.
Loyalty programs are a great way to motivate your happy customers to become raving fans. Let’s face it… everyone listens to WIIFM – “What’s in it for me?!” While some people will automatically talk about the places they do business at. A good number would say more… more often… if they had a vested interest in doing so!
If you, or someone you know runs a business and wants a proven approach for getting and keeping customers, clients, or patients in any economy, they should embrace the following 4 systems:
We can provide coaching and consultative support on how to integrate these systems into many local and small businesses. To request an appointment to learn more about how these systems can be applied in your business, click here and complete the form to request a marketing audit.
Leave a comment if you found this blog post helpful, or if there’s something in particular you’d like us to address in a future blog post.