It pays to form a mental image of who you want to serve, writes MYOB executive director Scott Gardiner.
Why you? Give customers a reason
In an increasingly competitive marketplace, you need to give your customers a reason why they should visit your store - whether it's online or bricks and mortar. As a small business, you don't have the luxury of a massive marketing and promotional spend. So you need to be clever in how you attract and retain your customers.
Understand what makes your business special. What is your point of difference? Why should customers spend their money with you when there are so many other choices? The more the business is about serving others - and the less about you and your needs - the better it will work.
Understand your customer
Create a mental image of a customer you would like to serve and use this image when you are creating marketing campaigns. Who are they? Where are they? What are their needs and motivations? How do they like to be communicated with? Try to connect with them in the way that best suits them, and make sure that you direct your message to them - not just to the general population.
Depending on who your customer is, some methods will work better than others. The more you can focus on customers and direct your marketing efforts to those people most likely to actually pay for what you do, the better it will work.
A satisfied customer willingly spreads positive word-of-mouth. One successful tactic for many firms is starting a referral programme for existing customers to bring in new customers. Offer both the existing and new customer an incentive, such as a discount or gift, for being part of the referral programme. Assess the return on investment and you could be surprised.
Use social media websites to promote sales and giveaways, advertise new customer incentives and ask existing positive customers to discuss their satisfaction with your company publicly online. Take the time to connect with other businesses in your community and industry. Online promotion doesn't need to be expensive; there are numerous social media platforms available at your fingertips.
An essential element of any effective marketing campaign geared to long-term customers is a focus on the information they need, presented in an easily digestible way that appeals to their desires - not an over-the-top sales spiel.
Illustrate publicly how valuable your customers are to you. This does not mean thanking them 10 times or telling them how much you appreciate them - it means making it very easy for them to do business with you in every way you possibly can.