How to shift your marketing to serving instead of selling
If you are a small business owner, you know how important it is to market your business & services. However, you may not be going about marketing your business in the right ways or for the right reasons.
I see it all the time on Facebook, Twitter, in emails & even in direct mail. Everyone is trying to sell me something. “Buy from me, host a party with me, you must buy this product, don’t miss out on this special, big sale…” It makes me feel like these people just want my money. They don’t care about building a relationship with me or helping me find a solution to a problem.
“Selling is marketing, but marketing is not selling.” -Anonymous
Marketing should be all about building relationships with your current customers and creating new customers. It’s about learning what their interests and needs are and providing them with helpful information about your products, services and other beneficial topics.
Here are a few things you can do to figure out a marketing strategy that will benefit your customers & your business too:
1. Be passionate about your products, company & services. If you don’t believe in the value of what you have to offer and that it will benefit others, why would they believe that too?
2. Get to know your customers, their needs & interests. What problems do they have that you, your product or services can solve & how can you solve them? What are their tastes, lifestyle, budgets, needs?
3. Know your products, promotions & procedures. This might sound like an obvious one, but I know many consultants who couldn’t tell you what was on sale or what the host specials or how to figure up an order without using their company’s order system. How well do you know your products, their features & benefits? What are the current sales specials, host specials or other product specials your company is offering? Once your customer is ready to purchase or asks for more information, do you know what information to give them or how to proceed?
4. Make it easy for your customers to do business with you. Do you have a website, blog or Facebook Fan Page for your business? Do you have your contact info on your website & your Facebook? Do you have your phone number, email & hours of availability listed on your website or your voice mail message? Are you committed to being there for your customers, returning calls and emails in 24-48 hours? Communication is so important in retaining customers & building relationships. Don’t make it difficult for your customers to get in touch with you & do business with you.
5. Always be prepared & represent yourself, your company & your brand professionally. Always have your business cards and other business materials with you. Vistaprint is a great resource for free and low-cost business materials. Keep your website updated with current products, specials & tips that help your customers. You are CEO of Me, Inc; think, speak, act & dress like a CEO if you want to earn the $ of a CEO! “Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity.” Seneca
6. Spend time every day marketing your business. You are your own marketing department. Make sure your customers know you are in it for the long haul and that you are working your business like a business and able to help them. This builds trust. Do you want to do business with someone who doesn’t appear to really be working their business or only seems to work sporadically? Set up a Facebook Fan page, a Twitter account or a Blog for your business. Update it regularly with information that benefits your customers and target market. Look for vendor and networking events where you can set up to market your business at. Market and network with others in similar businesses or in businesses that offer products or services that compliment your own. This will help you reach many more potential customers and build even more relationships.
7. Provide value, benefits and additional things of interest to your customers that are not related to a cash transaction. Remember the 80/20 rule. Keep your advertisement / promotional type posts and content to only about 20% of the time. This means don’t just blast your customers with sales specials, discounts & product specials. If you are with a kitchen or food-related company, share recipes, health & fitness & money saving tips… If you are with a beauty company, share makeup, beauty secrets and wellness tips… If you are with a website design company, share marketing and social media tips. Do a monthly product giveaway for your customers that does not require a purchase. It doesn’t have to be something big or cost a lot of money. Hold annual or semi-annual Customer Appreciation open house events. Make your customers feel appreciated and special.
The bottom line is that marketing is not about selling, it’s about building relationships. Connect with your customers, provide them with additional benefits and services, show them excellent customer service and give them loads of appreciation. Make sure your customers know you care more about helping them than just getting their money. This will set you & your business apart from the majority & the results will speak for themselves!
“If you work just for the money, you’ll never make it, but if you love what you’re doing and you always put the customer first, success will always be yours.” Ray Kroc (founder of McDonald’s)