When my coffee maker quit making coffee, I found the manual and started going through the checklist to diagnose the problem. So, if there is a checklist for coffee makers, why not one for neighborhood businesses that don’t generate enough customers? So, after a little background, I’ll give you one.
Where Things Go Wrong
Think about the way you made your last purchase. Chances are it started when you heard about some new product or restaurant, did a little research online or through friends and then visited the business. These three steps have now become a common approach to new purchases, whether the business is in another state or down the street. We categorize these three steps as:
- Engagement & Follow-up
First, customers must know your business exists and why it matters to them. Then, customers need to know enough about your business to make it worth their time to visit. Lastly, if everything has checked out, customers visit and judge the results for themselves. With further engagement, customers can be encouraged to return and even tell their friends. If there are problems in any of these areas, your business won’t be generating as much new business as it could.
Many businesses believe that a great location is all they need to generate neighborhood awareness. While a good location seems to work for doughnut stores and other simple storefronts, it usually isn’t enough for others. If your business has multiple inventory items or services, potential customers need to know more specifically why your business matters to them.
Typically, awareness takes several impressions through a variety of efforts such as:
- Web search
- Review sites
- Window displays
Different businesses require different tactics, but the goal is always the same – create an awareness that your business is worth checking out.
Once potential customers are aware of your business, you need to convince them to take the next step. For this, you need to be able to demonstrate why they should engage with your business and spend their time to call, email or visit. This is a big challenge since most people value their time more than they value their money.
To support this trade of time for engagement, businesses need to educate potential customers with content and references. There are many ways to achieve this education including:
- Social media
- Word-of-mouth referrals
These elements work best when used together and should reinforce why someone should do business with you. Content should ultimately educate customers as to why your business is their best choice.
Engagement and Follow-up
Marketing doesn’t stop once you have a prospect on the phone, in an email or in the store. Engagement marketing is about defining the quality of the customer’s experience, both before and after the sale, and building a more direct relationship. Relationships generate more repeat business and more referrals.
Engaging customers should include:
- Customer friendly policies
- Clean and inviting store or office
- Fair pricing
- Excellent service
- Social media
Each of these engagement options seek to further the relationship through trust and respect. Simply sending “Save money with us” emails won’t qualify in the minds of the customer as the best form of engagement, but at least it will be better than doing nothing. The goal of engagement marketing is to maximize the lifetime value of your customers.
On To The Checklist
Click Here to View the “I Need More Customers Checklist”
With awareness, content and engagement (ACE) defined as the three steps of the new customer cycle, it becomes easier to see where things could be improved to increase sales. Each area has specific techniques that can be used to improve performance.