Do you dream of doubling or even tripling your revenue?
The most successful businesses can figure out a way to get more customers or users cost-effectively. What is the best way to get out the word about your business? What secrets do you need to implement to get ahead of your competition? How can you profitably get more customers?
Marketing is an ongoing challenge for all businesses. Startups and established businesses must conquer the customer acquisition battle. I challenge you to implement the following low-cost, high-impact marketing methods to promote your business. It’s customers, not products that make a successful business.
1. Start with a plan.
The core of every marketing plan is the customer. Who is your customer? Your answer will have a huge impact from here on forward. If you give a vague answer, there is a good chance that your business will fail. The more specific you can be the more likely will the foundation of your marketing plan work.
Here are the questions you must answer about your customers:
- Who is your customer? Consumer or Business?
- If your customers are consumers – sex, what age (old, young, or child doesn’t work), male/female, income, education, level of education, etc.
- If your customers are businesses – What industry (what sic codes)? How many employees? What location? Size of revenue? Years in business?
- How do they make a buying decision?
- Whose products do they currently buy?
- Who are they influenced by?
- What industry events do they attend?
- How are their buying decisions influenced?
- What websites do they visit?
- What is their favorite social media accounts?
2. Determine lifetime value (LTV).
Some might call it “break even,” but we’ll call it LTV. If your business is to succeed, you have to get new customers profitably. The way to get there is to calculate the LTV. LTV is the estimated revenue generated by a customer.
Here are some critical variables for calculating LTV:
- Average sales – What is the average sales amount?
- Customer lifespan – How long will a person or business remain your customer?
- Customer retention rate – What percentage of your customers will repurchase? If you have a transactional business like a coffee shop, you will have a very different customer retention rate than a wedding band.
- Profit margin – Depending on your industry your net profit margins will vary. Health care and real estate are among the highest profit margin sectors. Accounting, tax preparation, and bookkeeping have the highest profit margin at nearly 20%.
The simplest way to estimate lifetime value is:
(Average value of the sale) x (Number of repeat sales) x (Average customer retention rate)
For example, let’s look at an SEO company whose customers spend an average of $1500 per month for two years.
($1500) x (12 months) x (2 years) = $36,000 in total revenue (or $18,000 per year)
Based on the above number and understanding your profit margins, you are ready to set the appropriate budget going forward. Of course, the above is a highly simplified calculation, but it is enough to get you started thinking about the process.
3. Update your website.
Many times your website will be the closer in the sales cycle. And, if your website is not about selling then, it is about building credibility.
Don’t squander an opportunity to get a new customer by having an old outdated website.
Here is the bare minimum of a website you must have to use it as a customer acquisition machine:
- Use WordPress as your website platform. There is a reason it has become the most popular website platform. It is simple to use. It scales. Most importantly it is a highly reliable platform.
- Get a responsive design. If you want customers who own smartphones and tablets, you must have a responsive website.
- Hire a professional web designer to create your website. I know it costs money. After all, you are running a business, and there are certain things you shouldn’t skimp on.
- Post excellent content, and post new content often. Yes, your website must position you as the authority in your field. The best way to do that is to have tons of great content related to your niche. If your content is not good enough to be published by an A-list publication, keep improving it.
- Have a call to action. Once you get people to your site, tell them exactly what to do.
- Aggressively grow your email subscriber list. Email marketing is still the most effective marketing method.
4. List your business in search engines – if your website is new.
Listing your website in the search engines is not the most effective marketing tactic anymore, but if you have a brand new website, you should do it. Both Google and Bing offer free listings for local businesses. So, why not?
To get your brand new website listed in Bing, go to bing places for business.
To get listed in Google, go to Google My Business.
There are other paid services to include your site into search engines, but I do not recommend any at this point.
5. Set up your LinkedIn company page.
This is especially important if you have a B2B focus, but any business could benefit. Set up your LinkedIn company page completely. You can add your company logo, describe your services, and share content daily about your company.
6. Configure relevant social media accounts.
At least you should have a Facebook and Twitter page set up for your business. The key here is not to over do it. Most businesses are pretty good about setting up the accounts, but that’s where it ends. It is important to stay active. If all you do is create the account, just to abandon it, you are wasting everyone’s time. To ease the load, start with one account and when you are comfortable with it add one more, and so on.
7. Sign up for an email marketing service.
I personally like MailChimp, but there are too many email marketing options out there to mention. It is important to send regular emails to your leads, prospects, and current and past customers. Email marketing is still one of the most effective marketing tactics.
8. Aggressively grow your email list.
The same way it is easy to set up a Facebook page; it is easy to set up an email marketing account. What’s hard is to grow your email subscriber list. Most website with an email signup, wrongly, ask people to sign up for a newsletter. Honestly, is there anyone out there who wants to get yet another newsletter? I didn’t think so. So, instead of asking people to sign up for something they don’t want to give people something valuable in exchange. You could give away an ebook, a special report, or a special list.
9. Send regular emails.
As you are building your subscriber list, it is important to stay connected. At least you should send one email update per month. I recommend sending text emails instead of fancy HTML ones. The more your email looks like a regular text email; the more likely will people actually open it.
10. Form strategic partnerships.
Strategic partnerships help you grow your business exponentially. Strategic partnerships can help you get more sales without hiring any more salespeople. You should look for a strategic partner who serves the same customers as your business. When you reach out to a potential strategic partner make a case for mutual benefit. You will only have a lasting strategic partnership if it works for both sides.
Don’t stop at one strategic partner. Any company can come up with a hundred potential strategic partners.
Consider the following about strategic partnerships:
- Create a list of at least 100 potential strategic partners. Look for companies that are larger than yours and more established than yours.
- Focus on building a relationship with your strategic partners. You are not building a transactional relationship.
- As you approach potential strategic partners, have a strong case showing the benefits, to both sides, of partnering.
- Make sure your cultures align.
- Negotiate the details of the partnership.
- Build the required support system to ensure the success of your partnership.
- Do not agree to exclusive partnerships.
11. Learn from your competition.
Don’t hate your competition. Think of them as your teachers, but don’t copy them. Study their marketing tactics. Learn about their pricing. Find out what their customers say about them. Follow them on social media. Consider what they do well. Can you do better than your competitors? Just a little better is not enough. To get your competitors’ customers to make the switch, what you are offering must be a lot better.
Use the following list to learn from your competitors:
- Where do they advertise?
- How much do they charge for their products or services?
- What do they do well?
- What do they do poorly?
- What do their customers say about them?
- What can you do better than your competitors?
- Can you become bigger, better, faster, cheaper, more reliable, more respected than your competition?
12. Build a referral network.
Referrals generate some of the highest quality leads for any business. When someone refers to your business, they are in a sense vouching for the quality of your service. A referral lead is many times more valuable than a lead you buy.
Important note! Your referral network is not the same as your customers. Don’t expect people within your referral network to become your customers. That is not how it works.
Here is how to build an effective referral network for your business:
- Identify the right networking groups for your business. There are many networking groups out there, and most of them don’t work for most businesses. Your job is to find a few that work for your business. Here is a hint. Some of the best networking groups are not called networking groups.
- Reach out to people in your larger network. Send them an email, tell them about your business, and the types of customers you are looking for. Keep your email short and to the point.
- Contact influencers within your community and your industry.
- Provide referrals. When people know that you reciprocate, they are more likely to refer you business.
- Take excellent care of your customers. Your customers are your best referral sources.
- Be an active part of your industry and community events.
- Use email and your social networks to build and nurture your referral network.
- Always ask for referrals. When you get a compliment, ask for a referral. Every time you start a new project, ask for a referral. When you successfully complete a project, ask for a referral.
13. Join forums where your customers are.
A great way to get in front of your customers is to hang out in forums they visit. Become part of the conversation. Don’t sell. Be helpful. Mostly help answer questions. Spend 80 percent of your time helping and 20 percent selling.
Referral networks are very powerful, but they take time and effort to build. Don’t expect overnight results, but it will pay off in the long term.
14. Blog regularly.
A business blog is one of the best platforms to get more customers. Your blog helps you in several ways. For starters, it helps to drive traffic to your site. Instead of paying for traffic you could have qualified prospects landing on your website simply because you have some amazing blog posts.
Many entrepreneurs get excited about blogging. They are doing OK for a while, but most of them quit before they succeed. The key to successful blogging is to stick with it. Blog regularly.
When people land on your blog, you can start converting them from site visitor to lead to customers.
The best way to make sure that you blog regularly is to have an editorial calendar. Plan ahead for at least the upcoming thirty days.
15. Join Triberr.
A blog without promotion is a waste of time. Triberr is a great platform to promote your blog and to network with other bloggers. Dino Dogan is the founder of Triberr. You can check out my interview with him.
Think of Triberr is the social network for bloggers. Triberr will help you promote other peoples’ blogs, and in return, they will promote your blog.
16. Build an authority website.
Authority websites are customer magnets. Whatever your niche is you can turn your website into an authority.
Authority websites have the following features:
- A lot of related content. If your niche is web design, your website should have tons of content related to everything web design.
- Add several different types of content. The best authority sites have text, images, audio, and even video content.
- Create better quality content than what’s already out there. If you find a great article on your niche create one that’s better researched, more detailed, longer, with better images.
- Interview experts and publish it on your site.
- Produce videos and post them on Youtube. Then link them back to your own site. People love videos.
- Post original content.
- Create content for humans, not search engines. Worry less about SEO and optimization and more about producing excellent quality content.
- Long content is more valuable than short content. Short articles have much less clout. Articles with 2000 words of more are more likely shared than shorter articles.
- Promote your content through your social network accounts.
17. Take SEO seriously.
SEO is the best way to get free traffic to your site. Even if you are not an SEO expert, you should learn enough to be dangerous. The first thing you have to know about SEO is that it takes a lot of hard work.
There are two ways to get great SEO results:
- You can pay a professional SEO company and pay them big box.
- You hire someone to do SEO internally.
The thing to remember about SEO is that it is no magic bullet. Also, there are no real secrets about SEO. SEO is content marketing.
18. Attend seminars.
Seminars offer a great way to network with people, learn about industry trends, and to form strategic partnerships. Do your homework before you register. Call the organizers to find out more details. Ask to speak with attendees of past seminars. They cost a lot of money, and there are so many of them you want to attend the best ones.
19. Improve your conversions.
If you could double your sales conversions of you could double your revenue. Optimizing your conversions is usually the quickest way to increase your customers.
There are many ways to improve your conversions, here are just a few:
- A/B test – designs, ads, calls to action, shopping carts, images, and prices.
- Experiment with alternate images, headlines.
- Use different layout and navigation.
- Change the color, text, and size of your order buttons.
- Set up a sales funnel.
- Use simple language. Don’t write above 9th-grade reading level.
- Address possible objections during the closing process.
- Build more trust and credibility.
- Reduce the number of choices. Too many options reduce sales.
- Offer proof that your product/service works.
- Remove distractions from your checkout process.
- Learn from your competitors.
- Add incentives to buy now.
- Offer a warranty.
20. Sign up for HARO.
Help A Reporter Out aka HARO is a great tool for creating greater awareness about your business. HARO is a PR tool for entrepreneurs.
Check out my interview with HARO founder, Peter Shankman.
21. Offer live chat on your website.
Live chat is one of the best tools to convert someone who is looking into a customer. You should only have a live chat installed on your website if you are monitoring it. A big turn off for me to see the live chat icon on a website with an off setting. Don’t install live chat if you are not going to use it.
22. Offer a discount to those who share your product on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, blog, etc.
You have friends, customers, and a lot of other people in your network. Why not ask them to share your product with their own friends. In return, you can give them additional discounts and rewards.
23. List your business in online directories.
Online directories were all the rage during the early days of the web, but they are still effective. Find directories relevant to your industry and list your website.
24. Become a speaker.
Speaking is a great way to establish yourself as an authority. Reach out to professional organizations, seminars, and trade shows and volunteer to become a speaker.
25. Guest post on blogs.
Guest bloggers gain instant access to new audiences. If you are a good writer, reach out to relevant blogs and offer to submit a guest post. It is important to be familiar with the blog before pitching. People see though half-hearted attempts. We get those all the time here at Success Harbor.
26. Offer discounts and deals.
People love discounts. I know I ended up buying in the past because there was a discount. A discount is not enough to sell the product, but it can be the little nudge people need to buy.
27. Create a direct marketing campaign.
Everyone is talking about digital and social media, but direct mail is still very effective in attracting new customers. The entry to direct mail is much higher than email. It doesn’t cost any money to send an email while direct mail has some real costs involved.
Direct marketing is great to test new markets. Direct mail is also more cost effective than many other forms of marketing.
28. Write a book.
Thousands of people write blog posts, but only a very small percentage of those will publish a book. A book is a great differentiator. You don’t have to charge for your book. You could give it away as a gift to get more email subscribers.
29. Use Slideshare.
You could take your most popular blog posts and turn them into presentations. Slideshare is one of the most popular presentation-sharing platforms. They have over 60 million unique visitors in a month. When you post your presentation on their site, you will get eyeballs on your work.
30. Publish a press release.
There is no reason why you couldn’t publish a press release once a month. You could write a press release about a new product or service. Press releases give you a great opportunity to share what’s new with your business.
Use one of the free press release distribution sites:
31. Create Craigslist classifieds.
You can create free ads on Craigslist to promote your business. Craigslist is one of the top visited websites online. That means they get a lot of traffic. Craigslist results show up in Google results. Only a very small percentage of businesses are using Craigslist for marketing, so you are in a less competitive environment. If you can create great looking ads, you will outshine the many badly designed ads. Best of all it’s free to use.
32. Create a seminar or webinar.
When you create your own seminar or webinar, you control the content and the attendees. I prefer the webinar format because you are not limiting your geo-target area. You can charge or offer your webinars for free.
You can also record your webinar and reuse it.
33. Be active on social media.
Many companies have Facebook pages, but most of them are inactive. It is a big turnoff when I look at a Facebook page, and the last post was sometime last year. If you are going to get more customers through social media, you have to stay active.
34. Sponsor an event.
Sponsor local or industry events. This is one of the more expensive marketing tactics, but it can be effective. The key here is to find the right event. Be very selective and make sure your target market attends the event.
35. Optimize your website.
Optimize your website in the following ways:
- Make sure your website is mobile-friendly.
- Use small file size images to improve load times.
- Include unique page titles with your target keywords.
- A/B test
- If you have a WordPress website, keep it updates. Don’t use too many plugins. Plugins can slow down your website.
36. Install Google Analytics (GA).
GA is the free analytics tool your website should use. If you don’t understand what’s going on with your website, how could you make improvements?
37. Donate some of your products or services.
I am sure you want to support some great causes while growing awareness of your brand.
38. Design infographics.
Infographics are excellent for Pinterest marketing. They also make for great blog posts. You can repurpose your most popular blog posts into infographics.
39. Become a content marketing powerhouse.
Content is what differentiates failed brands from successful brands. Content marketing is the only SEO you need to do for your business. Think of content marketing as the organic traffic growth engine.
Most content marketing efforts fail.
Because companies ignore what makes content marketing work.
Here is what you need if you are going to attract more customer with content marketing:
- Understand your audience. Who is your customer? Who are your best prospects? Who would find your content useful?
- Align your content with your marketing and sales goals. Your content should appeal to different stages of the sales cycle.
- Create content to increase brand awareness through blog posts, articles, webinars, and infographics.
- Create content to increase the number of qualified leads through webinars, case studies, and guides.
- Create content to close the sale through implementation guides, free trials and free evaluations, and live demos.
- Content cannot promote itself. Promote your content. This is one of the most often neglected part of content marketing. Promote your content through social media, email marketing, and paid advertising.
- Measure the effectiveness of your content marketing efforts.
- Make adjustments as needed.
40. Create an affiliate program.
Affiliate programs work really well for products. If you have a service business, you could still productize some of your offerings. For example, if you are a graphic designer, you could offer a logo design as a product. If you are a web designer, you could offer monthly SEO as a product. Affiliate programs are not for product companies only.
The greatest thing about an affiliate program is the there is really no cost to you. You only pay when an affiliate brings you a sale. There is a very low financial risk. But, you should be selective in terms of finding the right affiliates for your business.
41. Create an online training program.
Whatever industry you are in, you can get more customers by creating a training program. You could create a 10 part training program based on the ten most frequently asked questions. When you offer free training, you are getting loyal followers. Your followers will convert to customers much more quickly than regular leads. Even though you offer your training program for free, it still has to be excellent quality.
42. Start a podcast.
Podcasting is another way to grow your customers. When you have your own podcast, you are looked upon as an authority.
What should your podcast be about?
- Interview experts in your industry.
- Provide training and tutorials.
- Offer product reviews.
- Interview customers.
- Convert a case study or a blog post into a podcast.
Encourage people to subscribe to your podcast. Post details of your podcast on your website. List your podcast in iTunes, Stitcher, and more podcast directories. Market your podcast the same way you would market any other product.
43. Create an XML sitemap.
A sitemap is a list of pages on your website. Think of it as a quick pointer for search engines. XML sitemaps make it easier for search engines to crawl your website. The more of your pages are in the search engines, the more traffic will you get.
Although XML sitemaps don’t directly affect your search rankings, not having one could hurt your rankings.
44. Reach out to influencers.
Network with influencers. Influencers can introduce you to much larger audiences. Make a genuine effort to get to know them before you ask them a favor. Read their blogs. Comment on their posts. Interact with them on social networks. Once they get to know you, you can reach out to them for input or cross-promotion ideas.
45. Make videos.
Video is one of the most popular content online. When you publish a video, you will immediately grow your audience. Not sure what kind of videos to make for your business?
Think of the following possible video topics:
- Customer testimonials.
- Product reviews.
- Training and tutorials.
- Interview experts.
- Convert your most popular blog posts and articles into videos.
46. Run a contest.
Contests are a fun and exciting way to get you more paying customers. Before you start your contest understand your demographics. Contests are not equally effective for all demographics.
The prize you are giving away should reinforce your brand. If you specialize in luxury products, it makes sense to give away something that is perceived to be a luxury item.
The easier you make entering your contest is, the better. Facebook pages make for a great platform to run contests.
47. Network with the right people.
The key to networking is to network with the right people. Networking is a time-consuming activity, so you have to make sure that you are not wasting time. To meet the right people you have to go to the right places.
First, identify the people you want to network with. Then, find the places you can meet them. Seminars, trade shows, professional organizations are a great place to start.
48. Pay for traffic.
There is no better way to get quick traffic to your site than paid traffic. Yes, it can be expensive, but it doesn’t have to be. For example, you could run a re-targeting ad campaign on Facebook fairly inexpensively.
Instead of spending the big bucks on Google Adwords campaigns, you could advertise on small niche sites where your potential customers hang out. Even if you have a small monthly budget, paying for traffic might be worth it.
photo credit: Governador Jaques Wagner participa da inauguração do Salvador Norte Shoping