Is your business the “best-kept secret?”
While that question should make you smile, it also should raise a concern. Reaching your full potential will not happen if people don’t know your business exists.
How do you know if you are the best-kept secret? If you finish a sale and your customer comments she wishes she had known about your store before, you may be in the running.
How can you avoid this? You have a plan to get your business in front of people and you routinely check to see if it is working.
You want the name of your business and what it does on the mind of your entire target audience and more. You want them to have a positive view of your reputation and the service you offer.
However, building a customer base doesn’t just happen. It takes a great deal of work. In this example, you could have asked the customer how he learned of your business. You also might ask more about his experience and what would have made it even better.
Finally, tell the customer you are trying to build your audience and ask for his help by:
- Telling his friends
- Letting you use him as a reference
- Completing online reviews. This means knowing which sites – Yelp, TripAdvisor, Google Places, etc. – list reviews for your business. If you don’t have any reviews, now is the time to change that.
Those are some steps you can take with that customer. Now think about how you can work some of these same requests into your conversation with every customer you see today, tomorrow and next week.
Keep track of the answers you get. Compile them. Then look at these comments to update your marketing plan. What efforts are working? Where are you getting a return for your investment?
Marketing is not a “one and done” effort. You need to get your name in front of someone three to four times before he or she will remember it. And getting people to come in your door may take five to seven exposures. Furthermore, customers don’t remember. More than 50 percent of customers will forget your business within 30 days if you stop marketing.
We haven’t even talked yet about what media to use, traditional or online/social. You will need both, but the level and type of each need to be customer-driven. Build these decisions into your marketing plan along with how future trends may influence what you do. One of those trends right now is the growth in mobile use.
So what’s the goal? It’s to never hear a customer say your business is the best-kept secret!
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Glenn Muske is an independent expert on rural small business, working as GM Consulting – Your partner in achieving small business success. He provides consulting, and writes articles for county extension agents and newspapers across North Dakota. Previously, he was the Rural and Agribusiness Enterprise Development Specialist at the North Dakota State University Extension Service – Center for Community Vitality.