[When small town gal Erin Verbeck of Joy of Marketing reached out to start a conversation with us about small town marketing, I knew we had to find a way to cooperate somehow. We’ve started with this guest post from her partner, Sarah Petty. I’m sure it’s the start of a beautiful friendship. -Becky]
By Sarah Petty
Small business marketing isn’t really what it seems now is it? If you are in a really small town and you have maybe an employee or two, you are going to have a much smaller budget than “small businesses” in a large city with 50 employees. So how do you compete? Do you buy newspaper ads? Magazine ads? Television ads? What if you don’t have the budget or times are slow?
The first thing many small business owners do in slow times is to discount their products and services. S A L E. It’s the four-letter word killing small businesses in America. What happens when you panic and discount your products? First, you are devaluing your brand. You sacrifice long-term profits for short-term sales. You also attract price-sensitive buyers and you teach your very best clients to wait for the sale.
The good news is that you don’t need to turn to discounting your products to generate more business. Vilfredo Pareto, an Italian economist over 100 years ago, discovered the 80-20 rule. This principle, which proved that most outcomes (80%) come from a small number of inputs (20%). By applying this rule to our business, we know that 20% of our clients are more valuable than others.
Many business people concentrate on prospecting and bringing in more customers when much of the time, you have this community of people who LOVE you who can keep your business thriving. Why not create more things for your current clients to purchase that will thrill them! As a small business owner, your database is your biggest asset so get to know your best clients and create products for them, give them more attention and treat them differently.
Here are a few ideas that can keep your very best clients excited about doing business with you!
– Keep your ears open and visit with your clients. You can even connect with them on Facebook. When you see one of your best clients doing something charitable, reach out to them and ask what you can do to help. If one of my best clients is in charge of the fundraising at their child’s school, I donate a large product because I know it is in their best interest to raise a lot of money. She will be running around the event telling people to bid and bragging about us.
– Gift your best clients at the holidays. This isn’t a marketing scheme or a special offer to come in and save 20%, it is truly a thoughtful gift. I am a photographer and in my business, we have sent notecards, leaded glass holiday ornaments and custom designed small canvasses from my photography studio. It creates a buzz going into January and it also creates loyalty and reminds our clients why they love us.
– Make sure that your best clients get first dibs on any new products and services or any specials. No doubt retailers need to discount to clear out inventory so give your best clients notice first. This is a great reason to create an email database. Email blasts costs you pennies and create loyalty when used properly. My landlord, who owns the large interior design space across the street, was downsizing so a large retailer could come in. He started discounting at 30%, then 50% and eventually got to 75%!!! Who do you think was the first to know about these sales? If he is selling at a loss at 75%, of course he creates goodwill with his tenants when they get these great prices first.
By giving special attention to your very best clients, it doesn’t mean you need to stop prospecting altogether. Instead you need to pay attention to your valuable database. My challenge to you is to stop using the four-letter word, S A L E and give your best clients more L O V E.
Photo by Rod Evans, used with permission
There’s never a quick trip to the grocery store for Sarah Petty. She’ll pick up a box of cereal to examine the packaging and dissect the store window displays all while strategizing what works and what doesn’t. For Sarah, marketing really is a joy. She simply can’t get enough.
A highly-acclaimed speaker, author, business owner and coach, Sarah has inspired thousands of small business owners to use beautiful marketing to take their business to the next level at The Joy of Marketing (www.thejoyofmarketing.com). Her expertise is based on over 20 years helping build the Coca-Cola brand, meeting the marketing goals of a top regional advertising agency’s clients and building her own successful boutique photography studio. This studio was named one of the most profitable in the country within just five years in business. Sarah has mastered the science of marketing and the art of making it simple, actionable, and, yes, fun! You can learn more from Sarah and get free marketing tips especially for small business owners at www.thejoyofmarketing.com.