How to fast track to more customers

This month Jackie Jarvis, author and founder of Marketingco talks to the3rdi magazine.

“My mission is to inspire other business owners to achieve the best results they possibly can from their marketing and sales activity and to make it easier for small business owners to attract the clients and customers they want.”

“I started our consultancy business Marketingco 5 years ago as a result of seeing a demand in the market place for sales and marketing support for the SME business owner or director who is responsible for driving it themselves and needs to know how to do it effectively. Marketingco tend to work with businesses from start ups with some funding to invest in getting it right to those with up to £3 million turnover. Working with many with small business owners I saw that so many struggled with getting an easy flow of new clients and customers into their business. Everyone wants more of the right customers and knows that being good at getting them is vital to their success. ”

NINE STEPS TO CREATING A SUCCESSFUL MARKETING SYSTEM FOR YOUR BUSINESS

If you are a small business owner and want to generate more leads and convert them into more long term customers following and implementing these 9 steps will help you to do that.

Step 1 – Setting your direction

From where you are to where you want to be

The first step is to take an honest look at where you are now with your business at get clear about what you have and how that is working for you. You need to be clear about what you are selling, what is producing revenue and profit and what your current capacity actually is to enable the delivery of your products and services.

There may be areas of your business that just are not producing the results you want and are taking too much time and effort to deliver. You will have a current customer base that has value to you and could be developed. You may also have past customers who have spent money with you before but for what ever reason are not doing so now. You may have customers that are causing you problems with late paying or over bearing demands on your time and energy. You are where you are and need to recognise and evaluate that before you can move forward.

Here are some questions to help you to evaluate where you are now.

Where are you now?

Define what you are selling.
Where do your revenue streams come from?
What is most profitable line/product?
What is your capacity?
What is working well and what isn’t?
Your existing customer base: Who and how many?
Who are your best customers
How long do customers stay and what is their value?

Now, where do you want to be?

It is equally important to be able to project into the future and create a vivid picture and description of exactly what you want for the future. You may know exactly what you don’t want more of and could be guilty of complaining about it. This doesn’t help as like has a horrible habit of attracting like. You get more of what you focus your attention on so it is vitally important to align yourself with a positive future to ensure that you start attracting what is really where you want to go and start telling the story of your future as opposed to the one of your past.

Here are some useful questions to help you to start that process.

Where do you want to be?
What is your longer term vision for your business?
What is the purpose for your business?
Which revenue streams would you like to grow?
What are your specific business goals?

Step 2 – Understanding your market place and your competition

To start to move forward an create the plan that is going to have the best chance of working for you, you need to be absolutely clear about what is actually happening in your market place and with your competition. This will involve paying attention and doing some research. There is no point in creating new ideas and ways forward for your business until you have fully appreciated where the potential gaps are in the market within which you are operating.

So here are some useful questions to help you to start to focus on what is actually happening as opposed to what you think might be.
Your market

What is happening within the market place you are operating in?
What is the size of the market you are in or entering?
What is the potential demand for what you are offering
What are the trends, hot issues and gaps that need filling?
Your competition is also a source of information for you. You can learn from what they are doing and evaluate your own proposition against that which is already being offered and sold successfully. You do need up to date competitive information in order to be able to position your own proposition and potentially differentiate your business and stand out.

Here are some questions that will help you to start the process.

Your competition

Who is your competition?
What are their strengths and weaknesses?
What is your competition not offering that the market needs?
What benefits do you offer that your competition doesn’t?
What can you learn from your competition?

Step 3 – Understanding your customer

This is perhaps the most important step of all. Understanding the people with whom you want to attract to your business and what their needs, desire and problems are is key to the success of your sales and marketing strategy. If you can clearly identify exactly the ideal customer for you to target and can find a strong niche within which to operate where there is a high demand and not much competition then you will be on to a winner!

Here are some questions to help you to do that.

Your target customers and strongest niche
Who are the ‘right potential customers’ for you to focus on?
What are your ideal client criteria?
Who are the best most enjoyable and profitable clients to work with?
What are the main problems and needs your target client has?
What do your target customers most want?
Is there a good strong niche group of people with problems you could focus on?
Where can you find these customers?
How do your potential customers buy what you are selling?

Step 4 – Creating your solution

The next stage is to evaluate the solution that you are providing or want to create. You need to consider exactly how it will deliver against the demands, problems and issues that your target customers have. This needs to be a solution that hits all the right buttons and provides a perfect match to the desire that they have. You need to be able to communicate those benefits in a way that makes your potential customers say yes easily. They will say yes because it will feel like putting a glove on a hand that fits perfectly. The pricing and the packaging needs to be attractive to your customers and help you to build long term relationships that make you money.

Here are some questions that will help you think through the value you can offer your customers in terms of a solution to their problems.

Creating your value proposition

What is the solution you are proposing?
What are the key elements of your service?
How does this solution solve your clients problems?
What are the biggest benefits you offer your customers?
What is really unique about it?
How are you going to package and price it?
What can you guarantee?

Step 5 – Creating a path to your business

Having thought through your solution the next step is to cleverly design a pathway that will take your potential customers from where they are in terms not knowing anything about you to taking that step to making their first purchase with you.

Not everyone in your market place will be potential customers. You need to create a pathway that has a number of hooks that will encourage those that may be in the market to raise their hands. Once raised you will know that these people have an interest in what you are offering and could then be lead down your pathway to purchase. If you can successfully find and attract these potential customers you will be on the way to building a very valuable list of prospects.

Once you have found a great way to get people to raise their hand you need have a sales ladder laid out to enable them to climb up the levels of to make purchases with you. You can start with an easy first step that might be free which enable you to start the relationship and end up with your Rolls Royce offer at the highest level. There may be any number of options in between from budget, mid market to long term.

So here are some great questions to help you to start thinking about how you are going start people walking the path to your business.

Attracting hand raisers and building a list

How could you find and attract those with an interest and need for your services?
What would attract your potential customers to take the first step with you and their register interest?
What could be the steps up your sales ladder from initial interest to long term customer?
What could be the path of offerings step by step to your business?
How can you build your list of potential customers with an interest?
Getting your sales systems in place

Once you have the right list of potential prospects in place you will be in a position to communicate with them and continue to build the relationship you have established. In order to manage your list and regularly make contact with them you will need a system to do that. You will need a proper plan to keep this up and maintain a clean and up to date list. You will also need an innovative way of keeping that relationship until they are ready to buy from you.

So here are some questions to thinking about the systems you need to get set up.

What systems do you need to have in place to list build?
How can you capture and record potential customers’ details?
What do you need set up to communicate with your list?
NB. If you are interested in finding out more about the systems Marketingco recommend, email admin@marketingco.biz

Step 6 – Creating your marketing messages and materials

Many people when they are starting or developing their list think about the creation of their marketing materials before they have properly considered the previous 5 steps. They rush into a website or advertising campaign before they have thought things through properly. This can often mean that money is wasted on the wrong image for the target customers they want to influence, poor copy on their website and an advertising campaign that eats money as opposed to makes money.

It is really important to create the right brief for the designer and copy writer that is responsible for producing your materials. They will take guidance from you and if you are not clear the brief will be muddled and confusing. This is not the best start to the producing of what will be the first impression your business creates with your market place.

Here are some questions to help you to think through what you actually need to support you sales and marketing campaign.

What is the brand image you want to create?
What is the right brand for your target market?
How does your name and strap-line communicate what you are offering?
What are your key messages?
What marketing materials do you need?

Step 7 – Choosing and planning your marketing methods

The consideration of which marketing methods are right for the successful attraction of your customers will need to be considered along side the production of you marketing materials as what ever you choose will require a marketing piece to support it. There are many methods available and it can be confusing to work out what are the best channels for you to use. There are many low cost alternatives to high cost advertising and may that work a lot better in terms of generating a good return on your investment. Each marketing method need to incorporate your sales ladder and calls to action and link to an effective sales process to ensure that the leads generated are effectively turned into customers.

The following questions will start you thinking about what could be the best channels to use to reach your target.

What marketing methods do you know that your successful competitors use?
What has worked for you in the past? What has been your ROI?
What has not worked?
What can you do to raise your profile in the market place?
Which methods can you use to directly attract new customers?
What potential value do the following marketing methods have for your business?
PR, radio, TV, vehicle, bus, posters, billboards, newspapers and magazines advertising, internet, direct Mail, sales letters, direct sales, telephone marketing, window displays, personal contact, referrals, alliance relationships and joint ventures.

Step 8 – Developing you budget and return on investment

Once you have decided what you are going to do you will need to plan all out and work out what it is going to cost you to generate the number of leads you need. You need to focus here on the sales goals you have and how much revenue you are likely to generate and balance this with the cost of getting there. There has to be a balance between the investment and the expected return.

Here are some questions to get you focused.

Which marketing methods have you chosen to implement?
What is it going to cost to utilise your chosen marketing methods?
What resources are going to be required to implement these methods?
What will you need to invest in each segment to achieve your goals?
What return would you expect?
How will you measure the return on your investment?

Step 9 – Planning your sales and marketing strategy and actions

Each of the methods you choose to implement will require a strategy and plan of action. Each one will need properly thinking through and linking to the system you have set up. Marketing generates leads and sales converts them into long term customers. This is where it all comes together Thinking – Action – Results. It is no good doing one without the other they are intrinsically linked.

So your final set of questions to help you think, take action and get a good result.

How are you going to progress each element of your plan?
What needs setting up?
What are the priorities?
What specific practical actions need to be taken to make it happen?
What are the steps?
What are the milestones and deadlines?
What is your sales approach to convert leads into customers?
How will you monitor, evaluate and review your strategy?

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