Three Secrets to Getting More Customers

2010-02-23-secretsThe one question that every small business website owner asks themselves at some point or another is: “How can I get more customers?” Surprisingly enough, it’s not as difficult as you would think!

Here are three secrets that the best marketing minds rely on:

1. Identify Your Strengths

It’s pretty much guaranteed that no matter what industry you’re in, you are going to have some competition and you are going to be compared against them. So what can you do to stay ahead of the game?

The key is to identify what it is about your business that should make a customer choose you over anyone else. Pick something that you are or want to be the best at, then make sure you keep it that way. That “thing” is your silver bullet – in marketing speak it’s called your Unique Selling Point or USP. For example, if you sell protective cases for cameras, your USP might be that your cases are indestructible.

2. Pinpoint Your Customers

One of the common mistakes that small business owners make is thinking that their products are perfect for everyone. No matter how great your products are, there will always be a subset of people that are your TRUE customers. These are the people that make up your perfect target market and are also the people that you should be developing your marketing messages around.

If you already have a customer base, take a closer look at them. Who are you selling to primarily? Who is making you the most money? Look at age, location, gender, lifestyle habits, education level, and more. From there you can start to create a clear picture of who you are selling to, and what is important to them.

In following with the protective camera case business, it’s likely that an ideal customer might have the following characteristics:

  • Between the ages of 25 – 35
  • College/University educated
  • High amount of disposable income
  • Athletic and adventurous (“adrenaline junkie”)

3. Target Your Message and Make It Matter

Once you know what makes you stand apart from the competition and who you are selling to, your marketing is much easier to figure out. When you craft your marketing messages around your USP and your ideal customers, you should end up with a campaign that really communicates the right message to the right people.

Let’s talk about those camera cases again.

John is a 29 year old male who loves mountain climbing, biking, and snowboarding. He’s broken three digital cameras in just over a year. He’s trying to find a way to stop wasting money on cameras, but he’s not convinced that there’s anything out there strong enough to withstand his lifestyle.

Knowing that John is your ideal customer, one way to connect with him might be through video. Take an action shot of the camera case being dropped on a trail ride, then being “accidentally” ridden over by the camera owner’s friends. Afterwards, show the unscathed camera – and maybe even some accidentally captured images of bike tires riding over it.

By figuring out what makes your business different and who you are selling to, you identify your own niche and create room for growth. As a side benefit, you may also be able to identify additional products that are sorely needed by your ideal customers – products that nobody else has recognized yet and that will give you the additional advantage of being first in the space.

5 Ways for Your Small Business to Capitalize on a Major, Greek God-Sized Event

olympicsWith the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympic Games and 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa just around the corner, there’s no better time to look at how to capitalize on a major event for your small business website. Events that give you the chance to access the entire world from on your doorstep don’t happen every day. Here are 5 tips to leverage that momentum.

Be Creatively Audacious

Take a hint from Lululemon Atheletica, whose clothing line for a “Cool Sporting Event That Takes Place Between 2009 & 2011” has stolen thunder from actual Vancouver Olympic clothing sponsor HBC. The language behind their marketing manages to dance just within trademark laws, while capitalizing on the Olympic craze AND simultaneously thumbing their nose at the organizers. The resulting uproar has led the clothing line to selling out multiple times before the Games even begin.

Another example is from the animal rights group PETA, who last week launched a spoof of the Olympic trading pin. Their “OlympicShame” pin draws attention to the killing of baby seals, with a shockingly graphic take on the Olympic logo.

Take a chance and go for broke, even if you have to ruffle a few feathers.

Be Targeted

As always in marketing your business, know who your audience is. Don’t be intimidated with the thought that “everyone” is coming to town. For example, the Olympic Games attract hundreds of international world-caliber athletes, thousands of worldwide media, tens of thousands of tourists, and billions of TV viewers. This does not include the millions of blog readers who will be searching for Olympic content daily. Your customer base likely doesn’t change – it is only amplified.

Don’t get overwhelmed – stay focused on the demographic that makes sales.

Be Aggressive

It’s not enough to be open for business during a major event: you have to pursue your customers like prey. Your competitors are trying to distinguish themselves and if your business is outside a high-traffic area, you may be in for a slow period. Give your customers a reason to find you – for example, a promotional offer your customers can’t ignore. Be proactive and build buzz before the event begins: start talking to your audience ahead of time through social media channels (e.g. Facebook, Twitter, blogs).

A great idea in a crowd is not enough: keep on the attack to build momentum.

Be In Position

Be ready for any opportunity that comes your way. For example, have a persuasive call to action on your home page, as well as your communications materials. You never know who is reading your site. On the same notion, spotting and leveraging celebrities is a huge yet informal way to boost your business. For example, many Vancouver restaurants and stores offer free products or special shopping hours to attract film stars. In exchange all they ask for is a photo for their wall – an easy, informal and affordable exchange that provides an invaluable amount of promotional value. There’s no reason you can’t do the same with your business.

Stay alert for low hanging fruit.

Be Inspired

NIKE said it best in the 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta with the catchphrase: “You don’t win silver, you lose gold.” At the time, the company was not an Olympic sponsor: this controversial yet extremely successful play was an example of ambush marketing. It was panned by the IOC, but following the Games, many thought NIKE was an official sponsor. In 2005 the IOC decided it couldn’t beat them and NIKE became a sponsor.

Find the people in your industry who are the most successful and learn from them leading up to your event. Ask the question: how can you apply their strategy to your own marketing efforts?

There’s no need to re-invent the wheel, and no shame in learning from the best.

Good luck and we wish your business every success in your pursuit of gold this year!