Many in our line of work tend to struggle with marketing for several reasons:
- How much will it cost?
- Why do we need to do it?
- Where and why should we market the company?
These are all very valid concerns and can turn into high-risk investments if you are not careful.
What to know
When business owners think of marketing, many of us tend to think we must spend a small fortune to be seen or heard by our new potential customer. Over the past 18 years of business since starting from my home, I have learned a lot about marketing and most of what I have done cost me very little to do. Most marketing firms will lead you to believe you need to spend up to 7% of your annual sales on marketing to gain more customers.
Marketing is no different than starting a business. Yes, it is scary with a lot of unknowns, but when working on marketing you must have a marketing plan. For example, who do you want for a customer? How many new customers do you want? What products do you want to sell to them? What is your target number to hit in sales for the year? Is it a new product and you just want to sell to existing customers? Once you know the answers to the basic questions, you can start to form a marketing plan.
What is your plan?
My business plan over the years has always been to sell more products to our existing customers. Which many, if not most shops, do not focus on enough. Why is that? Do you think it is easier to sell to a new customer or an existing one? It is not only easier to sell to an existing customer, but it is also cheaper marketing dollarwise. For example, we just bought a 3D laser this year. We purchased a few hundred dollars in blank stock to use for testing and promotion. So, when an existing customer came into our store, my wife would take their logo and run a sample on our machine using the logo right in front of them. The customers were really excited to see it in action. They got to leave with a free travel mug, too, with the sale flyers for the process. We also would take pictures and video of the machine running and post them to several social media platforms.
Now, break down the cost. It cost us very little to give the customer an experience they will never forget, and it cost them zero dollars. Can your radio, TV, printed ads give that experience? Half of the time, we have a shot at selling a small order or still selling to them within a month if it is a product they can use just from that one experience.
Again, you do not have to invest a fortune to market. The No. 1 thing to focus on is your customer service, turnaround time, and quality of what you offer. That alone will give you priceless word-of-mouth marketing, which you can never put a price tag on. When your customer comes to pick up their order, put a sale flyer in with the invoice to promote the next product you think they might want or need. This promotes top-of-mind awareness. Another thing we do is keep company swag on hand to give to customers year-round, so they get to leave with a reminder of us. It can be something as simple as a pen, but we also give out apparel, travel mugs, and much more.
Make sure you have a functional website, and that you are set up on as many social media platforms as possible. It can take you fewer than 10 minutes a day to post something to your social media pages on average. Take advantage of that. We are big on posting our work and flyers to educate customers on what we offer. Marketing is non-stop education for your customers.
Why do you need to market? Some do and some do not. Some companies find such a niche market to sell to and they may be one of the handful of companies that can offer a certain product or service, so not much marketing is needed, but they still must do a great job to keep the customer.
Keep your goals in mind
Most companies need to market to gain new customers or to get existing customers to come back. Knowing if one or the other or both is your goal is very important. In our case as a company, we are now cutting out radio and TV marketing from our budget. Why? First, we had to ask ourselves if we wanted new customers. If so, who and how do we get them? Yes, we wanted new customers and more work from existing ones. We know we can market directly through email, in-store gifts, sale flyers, and mailing samples of our work directly to the customers that we want. When marketing on radio, TV, and print ads, you never know who or how many are going to call, email, or stop in, which we have learned can be a backend high-risk cost when marketing.
What does that mean? If we have a massive increase of calls, emails, and people who stop in, we cannot keep up with them and our customer service is viewed as bad by a new customer. Whereas an old customer would be more understanding. So, now you have to look at hiring more customer service members to keep up, which is an added expense. So, the way I think is, do we want 1,000 new customers next year or 50 new ones that will spend as much as 1,000 smaller customers?
In our case, with the number of services and products, we can do that. So, now I can redirect my marketing to market to 200 places in hopes that we land 50 of them within the first quarter of next year. Twenty percent return landing new customers is a very high number, but very obtainable and much more effective than advertising to just anyone and not knowing if the new customer is going to be a pain or just not pay their bills either. If you control your marketing, you can control your growth and your customer base.
Many companies tend to waste time focusing on their competition’s marketing and what they are always doing. I am not saying to not be aware, but don’t let your marketing be dictated by what they are doing, or you get sucked in like many do trying to keep up, which can be a huge waste of time and resources. Spend more time focusing your marketing on your goals and your customers. That is how you will achieve a lifetime of success!