In: Business Basics16 Apr 2010
25) Change how you answer the phone: Give your staff freedom to experiment with exciting ways to answer the phone. They’ll enjoy it and your customers should too. Just remember that the phone can be the first contact with a business; be aware of answering the phone in such an odd way that it puts callers off
24) Use promotional people: You can hire good promotional temps at very low cost to hand out flyers or otherwise spread the word. Dress them well, make sure they know your business inside out and ensure they are well motivated not to just dump the flyers and bunk off!
23) Cross promote products and services: What else could your customers buy from you? Once they have bought from you once, they are in a relationship with you, and are much more likely to buy something else.
22) Sell gift tokens: Everyone loves picking their own gift; if you sell products to consumers make sure you do this. The best news for you is that £1billion of vouchers are never used.
21) Do something unexpected: How amazing would it be if your supplier rang to say they had dropped their prices by 10 per cent, for no reason. Or the owner rings to say thanks for your continued business. In the internet age, business can be so anonymous, that even picking up the phone now and again can be seen as unexpected.
20) Send out a press release: A bootstrap marketing essential. A press release with a good story suggestion could get you valuable free publicity in your target media. That in turn will boost your reputation and could even generate sales leads.
18) Sell on your invoice: If you sell to small businesses, it could be the decision maker who deals with the paperwork. Why not get a rubber stamp made up with a marketing message, and stamp every invoice? Your stamp could even be as simple as “thanks for your business, we look forward to payment”.
17) Issue a catalogue: A classic way to reach people who are interested in browsing your products. To keep costs low, print colour pages from your website, or look at professional digital printing, which can give you small quantities of catalogues at a high quality.
16) Pick up the litter: Or clean the windows of the local charity shop. Or donate something to the Scouts. Get your business involved in the community. And use company clothing plus press releases to ensure everyone knows you’re doing it.
15) Use case studies: Just like testimonials, case studies demonstrate expertise and happy customers. Well-written case studies are also ideal ways to position your people as experts in dealing with specific kinds of clients or solving certain types of problems – perfect to promote your most profitable work.
14) Do some fun guerrilla marketing: Leave sandcastles on the pavements with little flags promoting your summer sale. Or beam your logo onto the council building at night. Just be careful not to go too far.
13) Write to your local paper: Small newspapers often struggle for decent letters. Get in the habit of buying the local paper regularly, and write to the editor about issues you genuinely feel passionate about. If they are problems your business can fix – perfect.
12) Focus on how your staff represent your company: People will judge your business on the people within. Use mystery shoppers to work out what the experience is like. Incidentally, a member of your family can’t be a mystery shopper. They are too close to the business even if they don’t work in it.
11) Do what the others can’t or won’t: Analyse your competitors and pick the things you think customers demand but no-one delivers. They will probably be hard to execute, but should be worthwhile (and it’s because they’re hard that no-one does them). Talk to customers to find out what they really want.
10) Take a holiday: If you work on your business 18 hours a day, 6 days a week, 50 weeks a year, you will burn out. And you’ll stop thinking subjectively about the business. Incidentally, if you can’t take a holiday, you need to understand The E-Myth.
9) Do a publicity stunt: Do something to attract attention both from the public and the media. It should be related to your business in some way.
8 ) Use online business forums: If you sell through your website, online business forums can be a powerful way to build reputation and drive traffic. Put at least an hour a week aside to read posts and reply with relevant comments. Be wary of spending more time on forums than working on your business.
7) Text message your customers: How cool would it be to get a text from your dentist reminding you about your dental appointment that afternoon? It’s so easy and cheap to text customers, every business should be doing it. Use automated SMS systems to make it easy. Remember to give customers an easy to opt out of further text messages.
6) Reduce rates for repeat business: Buy more, pay less. Make sure customers understand that simple rule and keep repeating it. They will respond to it.
5) Have a spring clean: Clear your desk, premises, website, anything. A spring clean gets rid of the clutter and brings a new freshness. Customers will notice.
4) Support a cause: This is known as cause-related marketing, and is a powerful way to get your business noticed through its support for a relevant charity or organisation. Pick your cause carefully, commit to it in the long-term (better still form a partnership with them), and shout about everything you do to help it.
3) Tell your story: Even big companies benefit from the stories of their founders. Look at Richard Branson and Alan Sugar – they personify the companies that have made them very wealthy. Don’t be afraid to build your company around you; people like buying from people.
2) Pick up the phone: The phone is the cheapest marketing tool you have. Don’t waste it on cold calling. Use it to phone leads or contacts, rather than just email them. In a world swamped with electronic communication, this is a great way to stand out.
1) Never lose your enthusiasm: The most important thing you can do to stand out it… something. Businesses that do something regularly tend to perform better than those that do something brilliant now and again.
This is the company blog of the Salam Business Club, the first worldwide Internet-based business network for the Arab, Asian and Muslim world, with members from over 180 countries.