Email Marketing

Small businesses main problem? They need more customers.

Small businesses main problem? They need more customers.

In September of 2005 our company sponsored a survey of small businesses in the service areas. The purpose of the survey was to ask the business owners, many of them franchise owners, what their significant business hurdles were. The key areas of the survey were customers, growth, technology and research, and employees. You can see the complete results here.

There are many things to be learned by studying the results that you can see here, and I hope you'll find them interesting and helpful. It will probably come as no surprise that the common problems facing service businesses are:

  1. Finding new customers does not occur fast enough
  2. Growth of revenue is also not as fast as desired
  3. Cutting through the advertising chaos to reach customers is difficult
  4. The internet is providing little benefit to small businesses
  5. Issues regarding costs and working capital are also significant.

No real surprises but it does highlight the need that small business owners have to gain new customers and get the ones they have to purchase more often. Doesn't that solve most, if not all, of the issues they identified?

The question is how to do it. Our suggestion?

The internet provides a powerful tool for communication and advertising that small business and franchise owners aren't using enough or effectively for marketing. It's called "internet marketing" or "online marketing" and it can include "email marketing". It's likely that small business owners don't know how to use internet marketing as the internet is seen as a big nebulus thing with no tie to location and most small businesses are tied to one location.

The business principles we espouse, regardless of the vehicle used to enact them, are:

  1. Making our businesses remarkable by taking great care of customers
  2. Listening to and acting on what they have to tell us
  3. Giving them a megaphone to tell their friends and colleagues.

It's a simple formula for success and it works. The internet provides a very inexpensive and effective means of doing so when you use the right software tools.

When you pass out a Promoterz bounce back card you automatically build an accurate customer list, increase repeat sales, increase referrals and prevent lost business. Pretty powerful little card. Learn more

Email Marketing is still hot

Email Marketing is still hot

How do you communicate with your customers? We all know that there's getting to be more and more online activity. How much? According to the Pew Research Center:

The proportion of Americans online on a typical day grew from 36% of the entire adult population in January 2002 to 44% in December 2005. The number of adults who said they logged on at least once a day from home rose from 27% of American adults in January 2002 to 35% in late 2005.

On top of that, Americans don't feel overloaded by the information they're getting on the web. Pew Research stated:

Just 15% said they sometimes felt overwhelmed by the amount of information they had, while 71% said they had all the information they needed and thought it was manageable, and 11% said they were missing information that they wish they had.

It makes me further think about how we communicate with our customers. Some businesses have jumped into the blog world in hopes that their customers will come and engage with them online. That works for some but this strategy doesn't work well for many small businesses because their business just isn't the type to draw attention to itself such that a customer would want to come and read about them in the normal course of the day. Do you want to know what's going on in the world of sandwich making, hair cutting, or pool/spa maintenance? Me either, not so much that I would return again and again to hear it.

The good news is that I would like to hear about special offers my hair cutting place has or new sandwiches my favorite sub place has coming out. And I, like most people, would like to hear about it through email. There continues to be more techie ways to send information out there (like RSS), but email is THE killer application... the most used, it allows you to push your message to your customers when you wish and they pick it up when they wish. It is effective and personal because it comes from you, allowing you to share offers and news. What's more, it allows you to develop a relationship with your customers.

This is all good and true, but knowing this and doing nothing about it will not help you grow your business. Here's my shameless plug for Promoterz™, a system that automates the sending of special offers through email. It doesn't require more time from an already busy small business owner either, in fact it's kind of like having a really cheap employee that talks to your customers 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. It also encourages your customers to send referrals about you to their friends, making it a word of mouth marketing tool. Additionally, it gives you feedback from your customers about the most important thing they can tell you about your business.

Promoterz™ is the internet marketing tool for small business. (End of shameless plug.)

You work hard to make sure your customers are happy. Don't waste happy customers. How easy is it for your customers to share with their friends? Learn more

Don't ask if you don't want to know

Don't ask if you don't want to know

One of the first things you learn in flight school is that attitude—not speed--determines altitude. Given a basic air speed, if you want to climb you pull back on the yoke to change the attitude, or angle, of the wings. Opening the throttle by itself won’t make you climb. In fact, if you are already in a dive, it could increase the speed of your descent. On the other hand, if your attitude is right, pulling open the throttle will speed your climb—but only if the attitude is right first. In much the same way, the growth of your business depends on your attitude. Using tools like Promoterz™ to get your customers more engaged and speed your growth will only help if you start with the right attitude.

In a nutshell, if you are not willing to learn and improve your business based on the feedback you receive from your customers, don’t bother asking them for the feedback. Not only will it not help you, your customers will see through the ploy and take their business elsewhere. Just like opening the throttle when a plane is in a dive will speed the descent of the plane, asking customers for feedback with no intention of acting on it, will speed the descent of your business.

Socrates, the great philosopher, called the right attitude wisdom. He taught that wisdom is not so much how much you know, but realizing how much you don’t know which leads to always being willing to learn:

I am wiser than this man; for neither of us really knows anything fine and good, but this man thinks he knows something when he does not, whereas I, as I do not know anything, do not think I do either. I, seem, then in just this little thing to be wiser than this man at any rate, that what I do not know I do not think I know either. (From The Apology)

Getting your customers more engaged in your business is a powerful concept. With the right attitude you can turn your customers into co-producers. They will help you improve your product and service to better meet their needs and they will pay you handsomely to do it. Then they will become a powerful sales force and go out and tell their friends what a great business you have. In a sense, they will become your partners in achieving success. The cost to you? 1) The effort to go out and get them engaged and 2) The willingness (attitude) to listen to them and make the effort to improve.

PromoterZ™ can help you with number one, but please don’t waste your time and money on PromoterZ™, or any other tool, unless you already have number two in place.

The Happiest customers tell on average 8 other people. Who are your happiest customers? Promoterz knows. Learn more
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Seeds from the blogworld
We search the business blog world looking for posts that illustrate principles, or "Seeds", that if followed, or "planted", will help small businesses grow. We list them here for your convenience. Enjoy.

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