If you're feeling the crunch of the economy, you're not alone. Everyone I've talked to, from clients to fellow small business owners, feels some pain. Many have asked me for advice (I'm not a small business guru, but I always have advice, it seems) and my reply is like a broken record: focus on marketing.
It may seem counterproductive to spend money now. Especially if your bottom line is not that great and the money you would spend on marketing could be better used as padding for the coffers.
Resist the urge to hide. This is the time to market. Yes, people are tightening their belts, but really, people are looking for a good reason to part with their money. Provide it to them.
- Video testimonials can provide that "good reason." Consumers are really into YouTube videos. Why not use that technology to prove how much better your product or service is? You can use free video capture (Camtasia) software and post the videos on your web site’s main page. Or create a testimonial page and do more than a few. The idea is to get the satisfied customers to say how your product or service made a difference to them. Don't have them speak in your terms, have them use their own terminology (see #2).
- A customer's terminology has to do with benefits. I tell clients at least once a day that their sales material is not going to make an impression as written. It's filled with features: "13 years in business, member of BNI" and this does not matter to someone who's looking at your photography services for their wedding. They want to know what’s in it for them. Will you capture the most important moments of their day? Are you easy to work with?
And then you've got to prove it. "Award-winning photographer offers free consultation, 25 free pictures if you buy the gold package, and black and white or sepia options for any photographs, you choose." See what I mean?
- Give something worthwhile to customers for free. This doesn't have to be 25 free frames, as in the photography example above, but it must be worth something. Usually product business offer something extra, "if you order today, you get a free shipping," and services business offer information, "free white paper on marketing if you sign up now." And don’t think about the monetary value to you, but think about the monetary value to your customers. If I received a free white paper on marketing from a company I was considering, especially if it gave me good actionable ideas, I'd be much more likely to use their services. And I often order from a vendor to get free shipping, as that's a huge draw for me.
Try marketing today. It may surprise you how a small effort reaps big rewards.