How to Get More Customers Using Existing Platforms

Marketing Consultant

App Ratings Affect Downloads

Using existing platforms is about leveraging existing web sites, social media platforms and apps to get more customers.  You can get your app in the app stores, build browser extensions for Chrome and Mozilla and get people to sign up and share their experiences through the likes of Facebook and Twitter.

Once you have your app in the web stores, to get lots of exposure and downloads you will need top rankings in your category or featured listings.  That of course is easier said than done.  You can use ads to get to a noticeable place in the ranking charts.  The higher your ranking the more people see and download it which pushes you up farther, etc.  Once people start telling their friends how good it is, things can move up rapidly.  To stay up on the rankings you really need to have a compelling app and get rated often.  One way to help this is to add new features (that work and add value) on a regular basis.

Browser extensions are helpful tools you download and attach to your browser to provide functionality.  I have used tools that filter out spam and of course many of you have used some kind of ad blocking tool.  You will need to get good ratings on these tools to maintain momentum.  So take care to have both a compelling tool and one that is unbelievably easy to use and as bug free as possible (Go for zero defects!  It is achievable!  I have done it.)

To sum up, figure out where your potential users hang out and look for gaps.  Then try to fill that gap.  As a small business consultant, I can tell you that generally it is easier to find gaps on up and coming platforms that on established ones.  So consider using existing platforms as part of your marketing strategy and your marketing plan.

Bryan B Mason

Apollo Consulting Group

Content Marketing Trends That Will Help Your Small Business Thrive In 2018

Rates of Facebook Post Engagement

This article covers some key marketing trends for 2018.  One of the most important is the movement to personalized content.  Unfortunately, true personalized content requires that you know something about your customers individually and are able address them individually.  This requires at least some basic data.  Many small businesses don’t have this.  What you can do without this data is make your content valuable, relevant and consistent.  This will go a long way to increasing customer engagement.  Content should be a key component of both your marketing strategy and your marketing plan.

Read more at https://www.business2community.com/content-marketing/content-marketing-trends-will-help-small-business-thrive-2018-01965548#6RegfVZBMTXQ6tht.99

How to Get More Customers Using Unconventional Public Relations

Publicity Stunts

Unconventional public relations are activities you do to gain good press that are not your run of the mill press releases.  Generally, there are two kinds – publicity stunts and customer appreciation events/actions.

Publicity stunts are things you do specifically to gain media attention.  They are designed to be press worthy and to generate some good buzz.  I can tell you as a small business consultant, that when done right, these can be unbelievably effective in generating interest and new customers.  Think about Marylin Monroe’s skirt lifting up from the air rising above a subway great (fan powered for the stunt) for the movie “Seven Year Itch”.  You don’t have to be a business consultant to see how well it worked to sell tickets.  More recently, think about Richard Branson’s “British Airways Can’t Get it Up” blimp stunt.  I think you get the idea.

Customer appreciation events like an outdoor carnival just for customers will typically generate some buzz and make lots of customers love you.  It’s all about generating word of mouth.  It can also be something like sending some kind of thank you premium to special customers.  You can do contests, anything that will make your customers happy and nurture some more brand evangelists.

So try to come up with some ideas that are original, splashy, fun and cheap.  There is no downside to making your customer’s happy.  And consider using unconventional public relations as part of your marketing strategy and your marketing plan.

How to Get More Customers Using Community Building

Marketing Plan

Customer Appreciation Event

With community building, you make use of your user community by encouraging them to make connections which leads to relationships which is all designed to bring more customers into the fold.  What you are aiming at is to spark evangelism by encouraging your most passionate customers to recommend your product to others.

So how do you build a community?  You need to pursue tactics that get your customers vested in your company and its products.  This can be accomplished by holding events, having formal user groups, having an online forum, etc.  Customers who love your products will love to interact with others that also love your products.  It provides validation and demonstrates that they made the right choice.  Besides directly getting more customers or more sales to existing customers, community building has another HUGE benefit.  It allows you to find out how you can serve your customers even better and even what products they might want next.  As a small business marketing consultant, I can tell you that this is extremely valuable.  Key to success here is to participate in the process so customers hear from you about what is going on.  Holding events can build lasting relationships with your company.  So consider using community building as part of your marketing strategy and your marketing plan.

How to Get More Customers Using Offline Events

Networking Event

Sponsoring offline events such as conferences, networking events or even meetups can be a successful way to get more customers.  These types of events allow you to engage directly with potential customers to more fully understand and validate your assumptions about the kinds of problems they have.  I can tell you as a small business marketing consultant that this type of marketing is especially usefully when there is no relevant place to congregate online.  In this case, it is more difficult for online ads to reach your potential customers or for you to be able to join an online dialog with your potential customers.  Depending on what type of business you have, these events allow you to meet groups of potential customers in person and begin a dialog.

The first step is to find out what kind of event (or topic/s) your potential clients would come to.  As usual, a good place to start is to ask your current customers.  Then you need a way to get people to the events.  This will be different depending on what you have to work with.  You can invite your followers on LinkedIn, send email or ground mail invitations if you have the requisite address information, use other social media, etc.

Make the commitment process as simple as possible.  If an email invitation, ask them to reply with a Yes in the subject line. Or just call your office and give their name, phone and company.  Do whatever makes sense but try to reduce friction.

If you make the event really valuable for the attendees, you will establish credibility and generate some leads.  You can have another event planned (say in the next quarter) and announce it in the event giving the particulars and ask for business cards as a way to sign up.

Other events you can use are meetups where people come to network, or you could throw a party.  You could combine efforts with suppliers of complementary products or services and have a mini-conference of a half or full day.  The key thing to accomplish is to have your prospective customers get to know you and come away with something that they considered worthwhile.  So consider using offline events as part of your marketing strategy and your marketing plan.

Getting More Customers – Using Trade Shows

Marketing Plan, Marketing Strategy, Marketing Consultant

Using Trade Shows To Get More Customers

Trade shows offer a good opportunity to showcase your products or services in person to prospective customers.  They are generally designed to facilitate interactions between vendors and the events’ attendees.

The first step in using trade shows is to identify potential trade shows that you might want to be an exhibitor at.  Then you need to evaluate the benefits for each show.  If you have previously attended the trade show, you already know how crowded it was, the number of attendees, and which type of people attended. What was the vibe?  If you have not attended before, read reviews and reach out to previous attendees if you can and ask for their input.

The next step is to determine what you want to get out of the show.  Are you just going to get leads or close some big deal that is in the works?  Are you trying to look for potential partners to work with, get good press or something else?  How does it fit into your goals?  Speaking of goals, you should write them down.  What types of interactions will help you achieve your goals?  Do you need big blocks of time in an intimate setting to ply your wares or just identify lots of potential customers?  Does the event meet your needs?

Then you can prioritize the events and compare the events in terms of timing (your availability and how it fits into an annual calendar), cost, effort, resources needed, etc.   How does all of this fit with your budget?  It won’t take too long to figure out how to create the schedule.

For each trade show, you need to prepare.  You want to get the attendee list in advance and identify who you want to meet with.  You can then try to reach out to them and arrange some event to meet at.  You can sponsor an event and invite them to it.  Your event can be a private dinner somewhere or a hospitality suite.  If it is more of a private event, you want to have a good mix of prospective customers, reference-able existing customers and people from you company.  This can include product development people, product management and sales people.  Prospective customers always want to talk with existing customers and get their feedback.

For your booth, you need to determine if you need a high traffic area (to get lots of leads) or a low traffic are that you expect to draw specific types of prospects to.  You want to have an impressive display to make a good impression.  You should have a big banner, sales materials, business cards and a compelling demo and/or some product people from your company that know your product or service inside and out.  The more engaging your display, the longer people will stay around to get hooked to go to the next step.

You can use some kind of incentive or give away to attract people to your booth. You can give away bags to hold all the stuff people collect and have people hand them out where people are entering the show. Besides your name and some enticement, the bag should have your booth number.  You want to have a call to action.  So consider using trade shows as part of your marketing strategy and your marketing plan.

Getting More Customers – Using Sales Teams

Marketing Plan

Using Sales Teams

If you have a product or service that needs a lot of in person interaction to get a sale, then you need a repeatable sales approach and one or more people to carry it out.  Basically you need a process to generate leads, qualify them and convert them into paying customers.  From my own experience things like enterprise software systems need this kind of approach.  In general, something whose benefits are complicated to understand or difficult to implement will need a sales team.  Services like consulting that need to be tailored to the problem at hand, is another example.

Your leads can be generated through advertising, SEO, etc, virtually any channel that we have discussed.  The next step is to meet with the prospective customer to discover more about their buying intentions and explore the prospect’s problem(s) and pain points.  Then you want to understand the implication of these pain points such as lost sales, low productivity, etc.  Next you want to lead your prospect to consider the benefits of addressing the problem.  You want the prospective customer to recognize the value of addressing the problem.  Finally you want to explain how your product or service would solve the problem and capture the benefits of addressing the problem.

Something I learned a long time ago when working with larger companies.  There can often be an imbalance between the benefits to the company and the risk to the person making the decision.  For example, if the person chooses to move to a new software product and it is successful, the decision maker may get a pat on the back from his bosses or a modest bonus.  However if it goes south, the decision maker could lose their job.  Because of this, you need to demonstrate how you are going to control the implementation in such a way that the risk to the decision maker will be minimized or entirely mitigated.  Think about it!  You also need to be sure it is truly a good fit.  So consider using sales teams as part of your marketing strategy and your marketing plan.

Best Buy’s Secrets for Thriving in the Amazon Age

Improving the Customer Experience

A great article about Best Buy and how it has adapted to the competition by creating a great customer experience.  I have over 20 posts on improving the customer experience just this year.  It is really important for all companies but a matter of life and death for small companies.

Read the full article at:

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/09/18/business/best-buy-amazon.html?rref=collection%2Fsectioncollection%2Fbusiness&action=click&contentCollection=business&region=rank&module=package&version=highlights&contentPlacement=1&pgtype=sectionfront

Getting More Customers – Using Partners

Partnering With Other Companies

With partners, you are partnering with other companies to get customers where both partners get something out of the deal.

These are the different forms partnering can take:

Regular Partnerships – Two companies work together to give better benefits to the consumer by having the products work together.

Joint Ventures – Two companies work together to create a new product.

Licensing – One company wants to hook up with a bigger well known company to take advantage of the bigger company’s well known brand.

Distribution Deals – One party distributes a product through a company that has customers  that could use the original company’s product.

Supply partnerships – This helps a company that needs a source for a key input (ingredient or component) to their product while the supplying company needs to move the product they are supplying.

For partnerships to work effectively, each party needs to have a clear understanding of each other’s objectives.  You want a mutually beneficial relationship with each party having an incentive for it to work.  You want metrics to see if it is working and set goals for the metrics with timeframes and volumes expected.  You should have a way out if it does not go as planned.

To get going, you need to identify some potential partners and ask yourself these questions:

What does the partner need to be more successful?

Will my product or service meet that need?

How can a deal be structured to make both parties happy?

With the above questions answered, you are ready to make your pitch. Then you need to identify who in the potential partner’s organization would be the right person to make your pitch to.  Then go for it!

One last point, work on several partnership deals at the same time as lead times can be long and you want a fallback position that does not take too long to come to fruition.  This way if the first potential partner walks away or offers you a deal that does not make sense for you but by that time have become desperate and need any deal, you have a backup plan.  So consider using partnerships as part of your marketing plan.

Getting More Customers – Using Viral Marketing

Viral Marketing

Viral Marketing is the process of motivating your existing customers to refer others to your products or services in large numbers.  In the startup world, going viral means that every customer you acquire brings with them through referral at least one other customer.  When you get there, you have exponential growth!  Just be sure you have scaled your product or service for this level of growth before you get there.  See my page on scaling at http://apollogr.com/scale-processes-and-technology-to-support-growth/.  I have worked with lots of companies that called me after they rapidly expanded, then fell back because they could not scale up to meet that demand properly.  Not only does this damage your reputation but can leave you with too much fixed cost and too little revenue.  Now we can be talking turnarounds.  You can see my page on this at http://apollogr.com/achieve-a-business-turnaround/ .

Viral marketing begins by creating a viral loop that works for your customers and then getting customers into the loop.  A basic loop can be as simple as (1) a customer is exposed to your product or service, (2) that customer tells other potential customers and (3) those potential customers are exposed and some portion buy from you.  Then the process continues with the new customers.  That’s the loop part.

There are different types of viral marketing:

Word of Mouth – This is the old fashion kind.  The product or service is so great that customers just want to tell all their friends.

Inherent – The customer only gets value by inviting others.  Think of Skype or Snapchat where the product is not useful until the people you want to communicate with are also customers.

Collaboration Based – The product may be useful for a single user but is much more useful when used in a group context.  Think Google docs or sheets where multiple people can edit at the same time and see each other’s changes.

Imbedded in Communications – This is where the use of the product makes others aware of the product.  Think about sending emails from your phone and having Sent from my iPhone or sent from Verizon appended to every message.

Incentivized – The customer gets an incentive to tell others.  Think about Airbnb, where you can get account credit for a referral.

Imbedded Buttons or Widgets – The supplier embeds buttons or widgets in the product that make it easy to share.  Think Facebook or Twitter.

Social Networked – The customer’s activities (including the use of a product) are broadcast to others.  Again, think Facebook.

So what does viral mean?  Well, if the number of others that each customer recommends who actually sign up is greater than 1, then you have viral growth.  That is, you get one or more additional new customers for each customer you acquire.  That is going to be really fast growth.  If you get one additional new customer for every two customers you acquire, that will be very helpful but not viral.

The other thing that affects your growth rate is the speed at which the loop occurs.  Your growth will be markedly different if the cycle time is 3 days or 3 months.  You will need to do everything you can to shorten the cycle time and to keep people from dropping out of the loop.

So to be effective using this channel, try to build a loop into your product or service.  Then make it easy (reduce friction) so people don’t drop out and make it as short as possible.