Getting More Customers – Summary of the Journey to Explore Sales Channels

Marketing Consultant

Marketing Channels

So this is the 22nd and last post in this series on getting more customers that I started in June.

In this journey, I have described almost two dozen sales channels that can be used to get more customers.  I have also tried to point out how to use them and what they are best at doing.  So the first step is to go through and select what you think are the three best ideas (channels).  Devise a cheap, easy and fast way to test to see if this will work for each idea.  You need at least 3 ideas to test because you don’t want to take too long to determine the best channel for you.  If you do one at a time, you greatly increase the time it takes to get to the most effective channel.  As a small business consultant, I can tell you that you want to be able to answer the following three questions for each idea at the end of the tests:

  1. What is the cost to get a single customer using the channel?
  2. How many customers are in this channel?
  3. Are the customers you can get in this channel the kind of customers you want?

Remember, the test itself will not likely get the volume of business you need but you want the test to validate the approach.

The last step is to select the best channel and put most or all of your focus on that channel.

If it does not work out, take the lessons learned from the effort and reevaluate the other 2 ideas you tested.  If these seem better now, do one of these.  If none look good, go back to your long list, pick three more and run more tests, etc.  If you are having trouble with all of this, get some help from a marketing consultant.  Good hunting.

Bryan B Mason

Apollo Consulting Group

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

How to Get More Customers Using Engineering as Marketing

Using Engineering as Marketing

Using engineering as marketing is building tools that people use that lead them to tell others and to become a customer themselves.  I have done this only once before and forgot about this altogether.  So I have to give credit to Gabriel Weinberg and Justin Mares whose book called “How Any Startup Can Achieve Traction” for reminding me of this and providing some contemporary examples.  While this whole concept seems most appropriate to software companies, it can be used by many companies to develop a useful calculator, widget, or educational website.

My example was to create a calculator that led the user through the process of determining the value of using a customer relationship management (CRM) system.  It asked questions about the value of customers, how many customers went away each year and so on.  It was very helpful in getting potential customers to be able to put some rough numbers around something so intangible.  So if you develop a usefully tool, you can host it on a single purpose site where it is easy to find and use but also has links to your main site to sign up for more.  In a perfect world, you would pick a domain name for the site that includes one or more words people would use to search for such a tool.

Google’s keyword tool is ostensibly about finding out how much traffic a set of keywords might generate as well as to identify more keyword ideas.  But once you use it, you are much more likely to use AdWords to get some traffic going to your site.

Another strategy is to develop a bare bones version of your product and offer it free.  You just need to have enough functionality that it is useful as it is.  But because you have so many more features in the paid version, once users like the bare bones version, you will get a healthy proportion to upgrade to a paid version.

The key lessons here are:

The tool or capability needs to be close or directly related to your core business or product.

Even if free, it has to offer genuine value with no strings or expirations.  As a small business consultant I can tell you that it needs to prove its worth right away before the user looses interest.

So consider using engineering as marketing as part of your marketing strategy and your marketing plan.

How to Get More Customers Using Speaking Engagements

Speaking Engagements are good for Marketing Consultants but not for Everyone

Speaking engagements are not for everyone or for every type of company.  If you are seeking to build your credibility and/or you have a relatively complicated message to get out, speaking engagements can be effective.  I have mentioned many uses such as speaking at conferences or holding seminars but there are many more.  So how to you get selected to be a speaker and what kinds of things should you talk about?

Marketing consultant

Speaking Engagements

In order to get selected by event organizers to speak, you first have to get their attention. So if you have a good idea that you can talk about in your area of expertise, you can just pitch it to the event organizer.  After all, they need to get a good lineup of speakers to attract attendees.  While this will include some well known names, new names doing new topics are also needed.  You can also reach out to event organizers and ask them what kinds of topics they want to have a speaker for.  Then you can make a pitch around one of their ideas.

Start with Speaking Engagements at the Local Level

While there are regional, national and even international events, it is usually easier to get into a local event and then build up from there.  You may have to submit your ideas months before the event is actually held so this requires some planning.  I sometimes get invitations to come to events that highlight certain speakers and topics six months or more in advance.  It does not mean that all speakers are signed up by then or that the presentations have been finished but you need to be deliberate.  You can also begin by getting some speaking events at non-profits, business organizations to which you are a member or even co-working sites.  I have been a speaker at all of those types of events as well as doing seminars at the various Chambers of Commerce where I am a member.  I do topics such as how to develop a marketing plan, a business plan or how to connect your business and marketing strategies to your web strategies.  After all what kind of company does not need more customers?  If you do a good job, people in the audience will seek you out to speak at their events.

Provide Insights from Your Experience

When you start to talk, the audience wants to know why you were selected to speak and what you are going to tell them that is worth their time.  You need to tell a story.  Tell them why you are doing this (and say it with passion!) and present insights that they are not getting anywhere else because you are drawing from your experience or expertise.

If you want to do a lot of speaking, come up with a few good topics and get really good at telling your story.  Make it modular so you can do short, medium, or long presentations while just adding or removing slides.  This way, you are preparing only once for each topic.  You can also record your presentation and then make it available.  You can also try to engage your audience real time over social media during the presentation.  Finally have some call to action.  Ask them to sign up for something or take some simple action that will be valuable to them and easy for you to fulfill such as getting them on a mailing list for a newsletter.  As a small business consultant, I can tell you that most importantly, your presentations need to be engaging!  So consider using speaking engagements as part of your marketing strategy and your marketing plan.

 

PS  My next speaking engagement is going to be at the Southern Rhode Island Chamber of Commerce on January 18th. at 12:00 and includes lunch.  It is free and all are welcome and you don’t have to be a chamber member to attend.  The topic is a “Profitability Checkup for Your Small Business”.  Also speaking will be Mark Collins on “How to Get Your Website to Rank in Google on Page 1.

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.

Effective Low-Cost Marketing Tips For Small Businesses

Marketing Tips

Here is a useful article with some marketing tips.  I especially like the idea of sponsoring a youth sports team for restaurants.  For specialized businesses serving a bigger geographic area, there are some other good ideas.

Small businesses do not always have a massive budget for marketing. For this reason, they simply cannot outspend the competition but rather have to be more creative and utilize other methods. The best marketing plans do not have to be expensive…

See the full article at:

http://www.bitrebels.com/business/low-cost-marketing-tips-businesses/

How to Get More Customers Using Publicity

Marketing Consultant

Using Publicity As Part of Your Marketing Plan

This article is about using publicity from traditional media outlets such as newspapers, magazines and online news sources to get more customers.  I can tell you as a small business consultant that being mentioned in an article or being featured can greatly increase your visibility and credibility with your potential customers.  Getting attention from the New York Times is pretty difficult until you already are getting some buzz from smaller outlets.  The idea is to get the attention of these smaller outlets with mentions and build up from there.

The first thing to understand is that any media outlet that publishes an article about you is doing you a big favor.  However, there is a finite amount of space to carry this kind of content.  Blogs on the other hand are different.  They make their money from page views. The more page views, the more money they make.  So if you have a fascinating story, they want to hear about it because it has the potential to make them more money.  The bigger outlets also spend time searching in smaller outlets looking for some great story that deserves a bigger audience.

So how do you get started?  Well, a good place to start is with smaller blogs.  You want to find some that are mined by larger blogs for content ideas (look for references to the larger blogs in the smaller target blogs).  Be sure that these blogs have content of relevance to your target customers and join the conversation.  The next step is to make a pitch for some kind of story in a smaller blog or a local newspaper.  The smaller blogs get ideas, the bigger blogs fight to get to be the first large outlet to break the news and the large traditional outlets are confirming and/or elaborating on the idea.

How do you get their attention? Report something new and significant – breaking a sales or usage barrier, announcing a new product, signing a partnership/affiliate agreement or commenting on some industry or news report that you are an expert on.  Keep your pitch short, to the point and supply some information with a link to more information or to a product demo.  I can tell you as a small business marketing consultant that the most important thing is to come up with some angle that will make your story compelling.  You want to get an emotional reaction from the reader so if it does not do this, it’s not good enough.  If your angle covers something controversial that will satisfy some readers but leave others mystified, that is good because you have provoked a conversation.  So consider using publicity 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 Affiliate Programs

Coupon Sites

Affiliate Programs are arrangements with companies or individuals to pay them for selling your product or providing qualified leads.

In the retail world, companies like Amazon sell (and often warehouse and ship the product) the product and pay the affiliate company to send sales their way and pay them a percentage of the sale as a type of commission.  There are at least five types of affiliation to consider:

Loyalty Programs-These companies offer reward programs for customers who make purchases through there partner network.  So when a purchase is made, the loyalty site (think about Ebates for example) gets a commission from the seller.

Aggregators-These companies list lots of products, sometimes with some value add service like specifications or customer reviews and then get a commission when a purchase is made originating from their site.

Coupon/Deal Sites-These sites offer consumers some kind of discount coupon or offer that can be cashed in by entering the coupon code after you click through to the site.  The customer gets a discount and the Deal site gets a rebate from the participating retailer.

Niche Sites-These sites are typically tailored to a specific audience (it could even be a blog like this one!) and offer deals to readers or members who then click through to a site to make a purchase.  Again, a percentage of the sale is paid to the Niche site.

Email Lists-Marketers that have an extensive email list of subscribers blast out information to their list.  When the subscriber makes a purchase by clicking through on the link, the marketer gets a commission.

Companies that sell digital products such as software, e-books etc. also make big use of affiliate programs.  In this case, the product developer sells through affiliates and can offer a large percentage of the sale because the digital product has little cost of delivery.

Finally, financial services companies such as mortgage brokers and insurance companies as well as law firms make use of lead generators.  In their case, the product has a high ticket price and has the potential to offer a stream of continuing revenue that makes each lead very valuable.

For the readers of this blog that are from small companies, it is probably not practical to create your own affiliate network by yourself.  It would be very time consuming and expensive and there would be no certainty of success.  So to get going with this channel, join a well established affiliate program and pay a fixed percentage or flat fee for a sale.  It should not be too hard to figure out how much a lead is worth.  Compare the margin on your product to the fee, or if you can get a stream of revenue, figure out what the lifetime value of a customer is likely to be.

You don’t have to be a marketing consultant to realize that one of the best things about using this channel, is you don’t pay anything (except possibly a set up fee) until you make a sale.  So consider using affiliate programs as part of your marketing strategy and your marketing plan.