5 Marketing Ideas for Small Business: 5 Ways to Get Customers Spending More

In this economy, you are likely looking for new ways to bring money in the door, and countless sales gurus are knocking on your door telling you how this or that new-fangled technology can make all your business dreams come true. But sometimes, the answers to our greatest challenges are sitting right underneath our noses.

Case in point: the fastest, cheapest, and most effective way to bring in more profit is to focus on current and previous customers. They’ve already proven their interest, and to some extent you’ve already gained their trust.

Therefore, many of the simplest marketing ideas for small business owners like you, who don’t always have a huge budget for high-tech marketing, focus on leveraging this micro-segment of your market base. Let’s pick up some of that money you’re leaving on the table.

1. Stay in Touch

First off, you absolutely, positively need to be staying in touch with your current and past customers on a regular basis. Don’t just shrug this off-yeah, everyone’s saying it, but are you really acting on it to the full extent?

It’s crucial to build different systems for storing client and prospect information and then following up with them. And there are plenty of platforms for doing it these days.

How to get their information?

Simple ask during initial form-filling. Offer discounts or information packets on your website in exchange for email addresses and get them on an automated mailing list. Set placards in your place of business, offering an immediate discount to those who text your system.

Restaurants, especially, can fill up on a slow day by simply sending out a text message with a surprise discount!

Follow-up communication channels range from telephone numbers to email addresses to text messages to mailing addresses to social media, and most of these communication channels can be automated for your convenience (though I strongly advise against automating telephone calls).

Now that you’ve got their info, send them news about your business, industry goings-on that might affect them, alerts about promotions, or reminders about annual checkup dates.

It just depends on your business and your imagination.

2. Make Them V.I.P.

Create some kind of V.I.P. membership for people who frequent your business.

Entrance can be free or paid-depending on the value of your offer-but either way, people like feeling like they belong. You can see this idea used in businesses in almost every industry, and even a small-town sports bar can capitalize on the idea by giving cards to their regulars and offering a special price on certain drinks for members.

Reward people for being regulars, and they will reward you back!

3. Give Them Something for Nothing

Many entrepreneurs despise marketing ideas for small business that encourage giving promotions, discounts, and freebies because they are obsessed with making a profit on every single transaction. Big mistake!

Instead, think of the lifetime value of every single customer.

How much does a customer typically buy over a year’s time? How many years do they keep coming back? And how many of their friends and family members end up coming in to your business as well?
Isn’t it worth breaking even sometimes to recoup the lifetime value of the average client?

Getting a break-even price or event taking a loss can be a great way to get people in the door, buying from your company, and you can make a lot of money on the back end or from future buys after you establish a relationship.

Dirt cheap oil changes. Free tooth whitening kits from dentists. Happy Hour restaurant specials. All marketing ideas for small business owners who want to leverage this powerful principle.

4. Tell Them What They Can Buy

You’d be amazed at how much more money you can get off your current customers and prospects if you just ask for it-too many businesses don’t do enough to educate their clients about what it is they have to offer.

Don’t let people who are there to buy just make their purchase and walk out the door-what if they wanted something more?

Always have a process in place to educate people about what else you have available-other packages, variations, upsells, crossells, and related services are great profit-building and value-adding mechanisms for any business.

5. Plug Your Profit Leaks

How much money do you leave on the table just by letting people slip through the cracks?

Think about all those times the phone rang but no one picked it up fast enough. Or all those times the person who answered the phone was in a bad mood or didn’t know the answer to the question asked.

How about people who search for you online, ready to make a purchase, but cannot find you. Or that land on your website only to find the contact information out-dated.

Now think back to the lifetime value of each and every customer I mentioned before. Isn’t it safe to say that very time a mistake like this is made it costs you the lifetime value of a customer?

That’s just unacceptable.

Look, before spending more money on expensive new marketing campaigns, take a real hard look at your current systems and processes. Visit your own website and click on every link. Call your company and see how many rings it takes to get someone-how educated they are about helping you.

Analyze every contact point with customers to see where it can be tightened up-some small business owners are able to double or even triple their profits simply by plugging the leaks!

Want more marketing ideas for small business success? Stay tuned for more articles on how to supercharge your processes.

So Exactly How Does a Systems Approach Work for Small Business Owners?

When you adopt a systems mindset, you begin to look at how one area of your business affects the other areas simultaneously. So what’s this systems mindset and how does it work, you ask? According to the INCOSE Systems Engineering Handbook, a systems thinker “knows how systems fit into the larger contents of day-to-day life, how they behave, and how to manage them.” “Systems thinking is a unique perspective on reality – a perspective that sharpens our awareness of wholes and how the parts within those wholes interrelate.”

Unfortunately, effective business systems are the most underutilized tools by small business owners. Last week I was chatting with a gentleman who also worked with small business owners. We started talking about the importance of creating systems to leverage business (a subject I’m passionate about). He mentioned that a number of his clients, like mine, are former corporate employees who have decided to start a small business. The one comment he hears from them is how much they disliked working in a large system. However, they realize that when they aren’t bringing in income or clients just how important it is to have systems in place to leverage their small business.

We can all agree that when systems are broken, they can be the biggest frustrations. If your computer system has ever crashed, then you know what I’m talking about. Just one day without email and everyone is wondering how work ever got done. However, when there are no systems or limited systems, you’re working much harder than you actually need to.

There are different kinds of systems. In a previous article, I wrote how to tame your email monster by using a simple system that helps to sort email which is built right into many email systems. Whether its phone management, email management, client management, time management or business management, there are systems to leverage each of these areas.

One client learned the hard way just how critical having automated systems were to her business. When a new client started to work with me, she needed to care for a sick relative leaving her little time for her business. Unfortunately, she had no systems in place. Before she knew it, her client list dwindled. After learning how she could systematically and automatically market, she built up her client list in less than 60 days while caring for her sick relative.

The reason many small business owners struggle is that they are not systematizing their internal business or implementing processes to leverage their time or resources. One client who was a Coach was incredibly frustrated over spending way too much time with her intake process. She estimated 60-120 minutes or more with each prospect. Unfortunately, many of the people she met with were just kicking the tires and weren’t committed to moving ahead. With a few tweaks to her intake system, she learned how she could automatically pre-qualify her clients through her own lead generation system and how to use her website more efficiently. Within just 30 days of implementing her systems, she spent just 20 minutes with a prospect before converting them into a client all because she implemented systems to help pre-qualify prospects.

A system doesn’t have to involve machines to work. A simple manual system creates efficiencies. One of my referral sources devised a system to make sure his bills get paid on time. When he receives a bill, he reviews it, approves it, and puts it in a special bin. Each Thursday, his bookkeeper arrives and takes the bills in the bin to be paid. It is an internal system that utilizes his resources efficiently and makes sure his bills are paid on time.

When you adopt a systems mindset, you will fundamentally look at your business through a clearer lens. You’ll begin to see how each part of your business flows into the other. Your perspective will sharpen your awareness of your whole business and how the parts interrelate.

What kind of systems have you implemented that work in growing your business?