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4 Steps to Getting (or Keeping) Your Business on the Right Track

traintrackGuest Post – Arpy Dragffy is a marketing strategist and customer experience specialist with over 10 years of corporate event planning, enterprise retention strategies, and customer research experience.

In this gloom and doom economy, every small business owner is looking for ways to slash their bottom line while growing their business. Who wouldn’t want to keep their costs down, increase profits, and boost loyalty among their customer base?

Often, entrepreneurs become so focused on closing sales and locking down new partnerships that their obsession with growth becomes blinding.

Take a step back.

A massive growth phase is an amazing thing, but it can come with side effects: resources that are stretched too thin, or even worse, a company that somehow ends up moving in a different direction than originally planned. Once you have turned your idea into a business, how do you create long-term relationships with your customers that will bring you sustainable revenue?

The answer: Customer research and loyalty strategies are the key to prepping your business for long-term growth.

These are the same concepts that corporate giants such as Best Buy, Starwood, and AT&T rally around to manage revenues. If you have ever received unexpected benefits from a bank or an unsolicited call asking you to rate your customer experience, these are perfect examples.

So how do you begin?

Step 1. Start by going back to your original corporate mission statement and isolate your passion first. Is the mission statement relevant today? Have you lost sight of what motivated you through the first year? What do you believe in now?

Step 2. Do everything in your power to understand your customer: research, panels, employee suggestions, business analysis. Find out how the connection between your vision, your product, and your customer can become more closely aligned.

Step 3. Stop focusing on the short term. Dedicate specific resources to using your new data to plan your business road map for the next 2-5 years.

Step 4. In the short term, isolate the gaps and strengths in providing exceptionally personal communication/service. Your challenge as a business owner is to decide whether you want your company to redefine the industry by improving in one area drastically, or to try and improve satisfaction across-the-board by resolving the gaps in your customer sevice.

This is a simple yet effective strategy that often gets lost in our hurry to move product and grow quickly. Never forget that the quality of your connection to customers is what will allow you to stay in a growth cycle. Why aggressively spend on acquiring new customers when a simple Christmas loyalty campaign can help reduce your customer loss by 10%?

You’re probably thinking – what if I don’t have the time to answer each of these questions?

Set up a project team or bring in a marketing strategist to impartially review your company. You will save money by producing products your customer wants, increase profits by building a stronger long-term relationship, and gain customer satisfaction by transparently addressing any concerns or gaps your company may have had.

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