Marketing and sales will, of course, be of the utmost importance to the success of your small business. However, do you even know the difference between the two? Marketing is everything your company does to reach out to the consumer and find potential clients. Marketing is preparation for sales. Sales is everything your company does to actually sell your particular product or service to the consumer and usually involves meetings with clients, calls on prospective clients, networking, and utilizing internet resources.
Marketing your company involves identifying and finding your target consumers. You must find creative ways to get their attention and prepare them to make a purchase. Marketing itself is made up of the 5 P?s: product, positioning (how the customer perceives you in comparison with your competitors), place, price, and promotion.
When developing a marketing message, you are priming your customers to make a purchase. In order to do this effectively, your marketing message must have substance. Yes, the graphics and logos are important, but consumers want you to make you point as clear as possible as quickly as possible. In order to do this, address these six issues in your marketing campaign:
1) Capture your audience?s attention with a message that clearly defines who you are addressing.
2) State the problems or desires of your audience.
3) Briefly describe your product.
4) Describe the benefit your customer will derive from your product.
5) Use testimonials or the like to give you message credibility.
6) Let the consumer know exactly what action they need to take next.
One of the most important aspects of small business management is customer relations ? the interactions between customers and employees. As a small business you have to provide the customer with better, more personal service in order to compete with the larger, more established providers in the marketplace. You also have to look to the future and develop ways to keep your customers coming back year after year. When a problem does occur, take advantage of the opportunity to build not only customer satisfaction, but customer loyalty.
Tips for Teaching Top-Notch Customer Service
1) Determine what you really mean by excellent customer service. You have to have a thorough understanding of what you want to provide so that you can provide it consistently.
2) If you really don?t know what your customers want and expect from you, do some research. Talk to focus groups and ask your complaint department what the most common complaints are relating to customer service.
3) Give your employees the freedom to go above and beyond the call of duty without punishment. Let them know they have a wide array of responses to choose from and that you trust their judgment.
4) Train your employees to share pertinent customer information among themselves ? likes, dislikes, quirks, needs, interests, etc. ? can all be useful knowledge.
5) Give employees an example to model by committing yourself to excellent customer service as well. Show them what you expect through your own interactions with customers. In addition, always reward those who go beyond the call of duty.
6) Provide training for all employees ? not just those on the front line.
7) Don?t expect change immediately. It will take time for a new standard to be set in your organization.
8) Expect mistakes and acknowledge them. Use these incidents as an opportunity to recommit yourself and your organization to superior service. Apologize for any slip-ups and really listen to the customers complaints.
Keeping Customers for Life
As a small business, you must cultivate relationships with your clients in order to ensure their continued patronage. Studies have shown that it is much easier to continue a customer relationship than to cultivate a new one. The first step to retaining customers is to keep your word. Do what you say you are going to do in order to make your business worthy of a customer?s repeat business. Expect that clients will return. Many businesses look to the customer to prove that they are worthy of their attention by returning on a regular basis instead of cultivating a relationship from the very beginning. Once you establish a good relationship, make it a policy to go above and beyond.
The customer should remain your focus ? not your bottom line. Your bottom line will only come into play if you can establish a business based on long-term customers. Make sure that you are treating your employees as well as you are treating your customers. You want lifelong employees in order to provide a stable, consistent environment for your lifelong customers.
Offer incentives to repeat customers. Consider promotions such as ?Buy 10 ? Get the Next One Free? or ?25% off on your next visit? to lure customers back into your establishment. Finally, be choosy about the relationships you cultivate. There are customers who are not worth keeping around for the long-run. If a customer is a troublemaker, don?t worry about letting him move on to a competitor.