We couldn’t resist 🙂
In all seriousness, there’s a reason why our business is called Flourish. Not because we like plants; we can hardly keep them alive. It’s because of what the word means: to achieve success, prosper; to be in a state of activity or production; to reach a height of development or influence; to make bold and sweeping gestures.
Isn’t this where you want YOUR business to be? Well, here are a few tips that might just get you there. And, if you need a hand to help you along the way, just let us know.
1. Create a sales funnel and nurture your current and prospective clients
Depending on your line of business, quantity vs quality of customer leads may be different. Having a solid pipeline of potential customers is always key to ensuring you’re building out your business for long-term success. If you’re just starting a business, this can be so hard – as you’re barely trying to keep your head above water just managing the day-to-day, but you’ve got to dedicate time to make sure you’re embracing what could be your next potential client.
If you’re not already, be thinking about a CRM.
Lots of companies opt for CRM (Customer Relationship Management) software, which has a variety of capabilities to manage ‘lists’ of contacts, to include things like appointment scheduling, online and offline activity, email automation, note taking, call logs, reporting capabilities and much more. CRM software really helps to automate the relationship management you have with customers (how the heck do you remember to follow up with 162 people in the same day?), allows for less data entry on your end (certain CRMs allow you to automate mundane tasks like tracking leads from an online sign up sheet or sending welcome emails), and also allows you to pay attention to the higher quality leads based on their frequency of activity, as opposed to spending time on those leads that may not result in a sale; this is called customer segmentation.
Why are we obsessed with customer segmentation? Because it allows you to feed the right information to your customers at the right time to move them through the decision making process. The same message does not work for everyone – so why not use your CRM analytics to help customize your interaction?
In addition, if you have multiple people on your team that all manage your sales pipeline, a CRM is perfect for team collaboration and information sharing – all in one place.
Learn to Engage
If you’re not interested in implementing CRM software, but do want to start engaging more with that laundry list of customers you’re storing somewhere in an Excel doc, why not adopt an email automation tool? Standard HTML emails can be boring – and if you’re looking for ways to amp up your communication a bit, schedule them ahead of time or include coupons or product photos, than an automation tool is for you. Plus – you can often find one that’s completely free!
Now, when we are talking about engaging with your customers and potential customers – this goes beyond the standard, ‘Hey! We hope you have a Happy Thanksgiving!’
Content Is Key
Instead, think through a good content strategy that can help you develop you and your business as a subject matter expert in your field. Offer value, tips, and guidance – based on the products or services you sell, and do so in a non-salesy type of way.
No wants to be sold too. What they want is useful information they can use, delivered in an unobtrusive way. A content strategy will help you develop a plan of different ideas and topics you can communicate to your customers about – and the best part is, is that you can automate it!
Email automation tools can come in variety of flavors, but some of the most common (and oftentimes free!) include MailChimp, Constant Contact, Drip and ActiveCampaign. The big differences you’ll find among these include the variety of templates they offer (you can just pick what you like and add in your text/photos), user interface, other software integrations, cost and available analytics.
2. Know Your Competition
Developing a competitive SWOT is key to understanding what you’re up against as it relates to the competitive landscape. SWOT = Strengths, Weaknesses (both of which are internal factors), Opportunities & Threats (external factors). Creating a SWOT on your own business, as well as those of your key competitors, will really outline the areas you’ll want to focus on to close the gap between you and those customers that are either on the fence, or with a competitor of yours.
It will also help you develop an overarching marketing strategy that’s more efficient and more impactful, while leveraging available resources more precisely.
A SWOT will help you understand things like:
- Do you know what your competitor’s pricing strategy is?
- How are they marketing to their customers?
- What’s the value proposition they’re offering?
- What niche are they going after? What niche are they missing?
- How do you differ?
A SWOT is something you’ll want to invest a lot of time on – so don’t just throw it together in an afternoon. Be honest about your business, and really investigate the top 2-3/3-4 organizations you feel are your highest competition. Believe it or not, you may have been thinking that XYZ Company has been a competitor all along – but when you perform a SWOT and find out that they’re actually targeting a market that’s very different than yours, you may find that there’s opportunity for coopetition, as opposed to competition. If you’d like to download a killer template we’ve used in the past to help develop your own SWOT, check this one out, or feel free to send us an email and we’ll gladly help you with one!
3. Know Who Your Customers Are!
Of course, developing a SWOT will provide some great insight into both the internal and external factors that can help improve your overall business strategy, but having detailed, stalker-like insight into your customers will take things over the top. We don’t recommend stalking your customers, of course, but you do want to get as much information about them as you possibly can – which result in Personas.
Customer personas are semi-fictional representations of an ideal customer, based on real data and some educated speculation about demographics, behaviors, motivations, and goals. They are created through research, analysis and taking a close look at who’s already buying from you. They can help you get into the mindset of your customers, so you can better understand what type of information they’re interested in, how they consume it, when they consume it, and what incentivizes them to purchase your products.
We’d recommend identifying several of your key customers, and performing a basic interview of sorts. You’ll want to capture things such as:
- What is your job role? Do you make the purchasing decisions for your company, or someone else?
- What industry do you work in?
- What are your biggest challenges?
- What attracted you to our products/services?
- Did you evaluate other products/services before choosing ours? Why/Why not?
- How do you research information on products/services before making a purchasing decision?
Once you have a good understanding of your customer personas – and keep in mind you may have more than one – you’ll want to ensure your marketing strategy aligns appropriately. Perhaps their #1 focus is cost; if that’s the case, then think about ways you can market competitive pricing more, or create a customer loyalty program that offers discounted prices based on a minimum purchase frequency.
A big takeaway with researching and developing personas is understanding what social platforms your customers use when they want to escape from it all. Is it Facebook? Instagram? LinkedIn? This is good info to know – that way you can determine and build your digital strategy around it.
If you need help creating customer personas, or want to check out a handy tool that will make it easier on you, check out one of our favorite Marketing gurus, HubSpot, for more info and of course, just reach out to us if you need an extra hand!
4. Create Strategic Alliances & Partnerships
There is nothing better than having other organizations or industry leaders refer you to someone they know, or to an existing customer. Today’s world is SO DARN COMPETITIVE. It really doesn’t have to be! Unless you’re in a super oversaturated market with decreasing demand, there really is enough love to go around. Find ways to create strategic partnerships with those organizations/influencers/industry leaders that are also in your space in some capacity.
Be clear about your intentions, and come to the discussion with ideas on how you can help each other. You refer customers that you’re unable to support or provide services to, and vice versa. Perhaps you’re bidding on a job but lack resources to complete the project at 100% of the scope; pull in your partnerships to complete the deal. Maintaining open and transparent communication – and expectations – will create a path for long-term success and opportunities for growth.
We’re also firm believers in always asking the question, ‘What can I do for you?’ as opposed to ‘What can I gain from you?. This will often times lead to building trust over time, and will eventually come full circle.
5. Think Big Picture & Develop A Marketing Strategy
The Guiding Light. The North Star. The Pot of Gold at the End of a Rainbow.
Whatever you want to call it, a marketing strategy needs to be developed to help guide your business in all its endeavors. A good, thorough strategy will ensure you identify your key business goals, research your target market (and gain a very clear understanding of how to tap into it), understand the competitive landscape and create the marketing tactics that will help you achieve your overarching goals. It’s a culmination of activities, offline and online, that help a business move closer to its short term or long-term strategic goals.
It’s also important that with any strategy, you determine key milestones you can measure up against and apply timeframes for implementation. Hold yourself accountable to your actions, and measure, measure, measure results. Tweak if you need to, then try again. Marketing does not happen overnight – but once you get it right, you’ll have a better idea of where to apply your efforts.
There are so many tools available that can help you determine an overarching strategy, but the real innovation comes in when creating the tactical elements to help deliver and reach the objectives you set forth for yourself.
You want to increase market penetration? Great! How will you do it?
You want to increase sales by 20% MoM? Awesome! Where will you find new customers, or how will you grow your existing ones?
Does your social media strategy need to stand out more? How do you create a digital customer segment to ensure your message is hitting the right people, at the right time?
Creating tangible, measurable objectives are key – but understanding current trends coupled with what your competitors are doing is what will set you apart. For an in-depth guide to building out your own marketing strategy, check out this virtual workshop, or shoot us an email and we’ll setup a free consultation to see if we can help!
Marketing strategy can be tough – but finding the right partner will make it achievable and successful.
When it’s all said and done, make sure you dedicate time and resources to maintain a strong strategy that holds key stakeholders accountability for getting things done. Don’t just talk – but DO!
You got this!! And if you think you don’t, just give us a shout and we’ll be glad to help you out 🙂