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21 steps to attract and keep customers for small businesses

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  1. Start with leadership.

Before tackling any kind of marketing, the first thing you must do is be crystal clear on what it is you want to accomplish, who you are, and why you are doing the things you are doing

Sometimes giving yourself some constraints will provide the necessary tension to develop creative ideas.

  1. Deliver value.

The function of a business is to create a customer. Marketing is developing value for a customer. Operate your business through the lens of a customer. What does your customer see when they go to the market? Reorientate yourself to thinking through the lens of a customer.

As is often the case, a customer evaluates values –  what they want, desire and need. Identifying their reasons for purchasing in the fundamental sense is a good starting point that will help you in the next few steps.

  1. Target low-hanging fruit.

Target a group of people with similar reasons to purchase and who you can talk to cost-effectively.

  1. Versus positioning.

Small businesses are usually up against more prominent brands. Use their name and brand power by developing positioning and messages that position your brand against their brand. 

Watch Avis commercials for a great example.

  1. Create 2-3 objectives that frame decision-making.

Create objectives that will make you grow. If your objectives revolve around loyalty, you will lose. Create an objective around awareness and or increasing the share of the search.  

  1. The customer is a hero. You are the guide.

Orientate yourself and your company as if it was in a story. However, in this story, you are the guide, and your cusotmers are the hero. Be the Yoda, the Gandalf, helping Luke or Biblo with their quests.

Practically, replace all “we” with “you” in all marketing efforts.

  1. Shopping versus buying.

Shopping is going to the store not knowing what to get. Buying is the act of making a decision based on previous research or no need for research. Are you operating a business where you have buyers or shoppers? If buyers make it so simple to buy from you, they go to you for that reason. If shoppers make it an experience, they look forward to it. Delight them.

  1. Stories scale.

Treat every customer with supreme delight. Delighting a customer meaningfully is tough to scale, but the customer’s story scales. Also called word of mouth, but give your customers “talk triggers” to talk about your company.

  1. Sales pitch.

Start with the problem you solve. We don’t categorize brands in our minds. We categorize problems. Headache? Advil. Rent a car? Enterprise. Blow noise? Tissue paper.

  1. Incentives.

Is your sales team incentivized to delight or sell? Think about the impact your team will have when they are treated well.

  1. Take a touchpoint audit.

Take 30 minutes and write down every single “touchpoint” (defined as any time a customer comes into contact with your business) a customer has with your company. Create a pass/fail metric for each touchpoint. Spend a week counting your pass/fail results for each touchpoint to identify your bottlenecks in the sales process.

  1. The long and short of it.

Spend 60% of your ad budget on brand-building activities and 40% on sales activation activities. Don’t believe us? Here is why.

  1. Famous.

The goal is to become locally famous. Your local brand-building activities will help you become famous while your sales activation harvests the value you create. Tougher to harvest value when you aren’t famous.

  1. Emotional messaging.

The primary driver of profit is your creative advertising. The stuff that sells. The best brands use emotional messaging to sell. If your ads are void of emotion, you will lose. What are your value drivers of your customer from step 2? Create an ad around that value driver.

  1. Media agnostic.

Be open-minded about choosing any medium. Stop asking the question will it work for my audience? The right question is, what needs to happen to use this media effectively? Now make decisions based on budget. Every medium works if used correctly.

  1. SM and SOV.

The rule in advertising – your market share grows based on the share of voice within the marketplace. Meaning compared to your competitors, how loud are you? If you are not properly allocating funds to be loud in the marketplace, your market share will decrease.

  1. The website above the fold.

Can your homepage pass the grunt test? Imagine a caveman clicks on your website. Can the caveman grunt his way through the homepage answering the following questions in 8 seconds?

  • What do you offer?
  • How will it make my life better?
  • What do I need to do to buy it?
  1. Lead generators on the website.

Create a product for prospects. A product for prospects is something free, delights and adds value to your customer. Design the product around the idea of ease of use. Don’t both decrease yoru current project’s outputs and package it differently. Think about volume and scale. Can your product for prospects be easily scaled?

  1. Auto email campaign.

Be sure to set up an automatic email campaign to ensure your prospects are getting the value you promised. Don’t rely on yourself to answer the email request.

  1. Price Effectively.

Be sure to have 3 pricing models displayed. There is something called anchoring, where your price will always be compared to whatever yoru customer has available to them. If I were to say these hiking socks cost $100, you’d walk out.  But if I said the price for this pair of socks is $25, this one is $50, and these socks are $100 with a guarantee of zero blisters, now you would consider each option.

  1. Own media.

Avoid the need for a 3rd party to talk to your customers. Facebook followers are not your customers. They are Facebook users. Would you rather have 3000 followers or 500 subscribers? Subscribers are worth more when evaluating a business and are more likely to buy from you.

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