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Sales & Marketing

36 Posts authored by: Rieva Lesonsky

Rieva Lesonsky Headshot.pngHave you heard the expression, “content is king?” Well, content marketing is one of the hottest buzzwords in marketing right now, which means it should be included in your marketing strategy if it isn’t already.

 

Content is wide-ranging and can take the form of articles, blog posts, white papers, videos and social media posts. All of these can help your small business build brand awareness, attract qualified leads and increase sales. So, what’s the trick to succeed at content marketing? Here are eight tips:

 

1. Set goals. As with any marketing effort, you must put measurable goals in place before creating your content. You may have different goals for different types of content. For example, Twitter posts may be intended to increase awareness of your business among new customers, while articles shared on LinkedIn might be targeted toward getting existing customers to contact you to purchase additional services.

 

CLICK HERE TO READ MORE ARTICLES FROM SMALL BUSINESS EXPERT RIEVA LESONSKY

 

2. Understand your audience. Tailor content marketing to your specific audience. If you sell clever T-shirts targeted to teenagers, content marketing might mean posting funny GIFs on Instagram and Snapchat. If you sell IT services to businesses, sharing thought leadership articles on LinkedIn is more effective. What social channels, industry websites and other online venues do your target customers frequent? What common questions do they have about your product or service? What problems can you help them solve?

 

3. Plan different types of content. How-to content, visual content and online video are among the top content marketing trends, the Content Marketing Institute reports. If creating multiple types of content sounds daunting, try repurposing the same information in different formats. For example, create a white paper, break it down into smaller blog posts, pull out interesting facts to share as tweets, and use statistics to create an infographic.

 

RELATED ARTICLE: THE SURPRISING IMPACT OF EMAIL MARKETING AND HOW TO MAXIMIZE ITS EFFECT

 

4. Develop a content marketing plan. Your plan should specify what types of content you will share, where you will share it, when/how often, and your goals for each piece. Assign responsibility for creating content. If you don't have the staff or talent in-house, look for freelance copywriters and designers at sites like Upwork or Freelancer. If you’re going the DIY route, Canva is a great resource for creating infographics, charts and other visuals.

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5. Think mobile first. Whether you’re targeting B2C or B2B consumers, they increasingly view email, social media and websites on their mobile phones. Make sure any content you create looks just as good—and is just as readable—on a smartphone as it is on a desktop computer.

 

6. Include a call to action. Every piece of content should include a clear call-to-action (CTA) that helps you achieve the goals you set in Step 1. Examples include “Call for an instant price quote,” “Download our white paper on [X topic],” or “Learn more about [X product].” Link each CTA to a relevant landing page where viewers can take the next step, such as providing their contact information, making a purchase or filling out a form.

 

7. Promote and share your content. Host your content on your own website and share it on social media. (Budget for some social media advertising to make your content stand out in viewers’ crowded feeds.) Buffer and Hootsuite are popular tools to help you manage content on social media. Don’t forget email: A Content Marketing Institute study last year noted B2B marketers ranked email as the most effective channel for content marketing.

 

8. Measure results. With digital content marketing, you can see exactly how every piece of content performs. Use social media analytics and web analytics tools to track how many people interact with each piece of content and what they do afterwards. Also test different elements (headlines, images, keywords etc.) to see which get the best response from your audience.

It’s going to take some time, effort and investment, but content marketing can pay off big for your small business.

 

About Rieva Lesonsky

Rieva Lesonsky is CEO and Co-founder of GrowBiz Media, a custom content and media company focusing on small business and entrepreneurship, and the blog SmallBizDaily.com.  A nationally known speaker and authority on entrepreneurship, Rieva has been covering America’s entrepreneurs for more than 30 years. Before co-founding GrowBiz Media, Lesonsky was the long-time Editorial Director of Entrepreneur Magazine. Lesonsky has appeared on hundreds of radio shows and numerous local and national television programs, including the Today Show, Good Morning America, CNN, The Martha Stewart Show and Oprah.Lesonsky regularly writes about small business for numerous websites and for corporations targeting entrepreneurs. Many organizations have recognized Lesonsky for her tireless devotion to helping entrepreneurs. She served on the Small Business Administration’s National Advisory Council for six years, was honored by the SBA as a Small Business Media Advocate and a Woman in Business Advocate, and received the prestigious Lou Campanelli award from SCORE. She is a long-time member of the Business Journalists Hall of Fame.

Web: www.growbizmedia.com or Twitter: @Rieva

You can read more articles from Rieva Lesonsky by clicking here

 

Bank of America, N.A. engages with Rieva Lesonsky to provide informational materials for your discussion or review purposes only. Rieva Lesonsky is a registered trademark, used pursuant to license. The third parties within articles are used under license from Rieva Lesonsky.\ Consult your financial, legal and accounting advisors, as neither Bank of America, its affiliates, nor their employees provide legal, accounting and tax advice.

           

Bank of America, N.A. Member FDIC.  ©2017 Bank of America Corporation

Rieva Lesonsky Headshot.pngMore than 83 million strong, Millennials (generally defined as those born between 1982 and 2000) account for more than one-fourth of the U.S. population and are becoming increasingly important as consumers. If you want your business to attract more of these influential customers, here are the seven things you should be doing.

 

CLICK HERE TO READ MORE ARTICLES FROM SMALL BUSINESS EXPERT RIEVA LESONSKY

 

1. Get reviews. Some 85 percent of Millennials research products and services before making a purchase, according to a report from Kissmetrics. That means they’re checking out company websites, as well as looking at online reviews, checking social media and asking their social circle for recommendations.  Most (89 percent) Millennials trust recommendations from friends and family more than a business’s own claims, and 93 percent have made purchases based on these recommendations. However, recommendations from strangers are also important: 84 percent of Millennials say their purchases are at least “somewhat” influenced by user-generated content online. Make sure your business is on all the ratings and review sites relevant to your industry, and monitor your reviews for anything negative so you can quickly deal with the situation before it goes viral.

 

2. Be social. For Millennial consumers, it’s all about social media. They want to share what they’re thinking, doing and buying. Savvy brands are harnessing this social focus by creating “Instagrammable” products and services with visual appeal. (Facial masks, blue lipstick and rainbow-colored hair dye are all examples of beauty trends that have caught on with young consumers because they get lots of “likes” on Instagram.) Whether you’re brewing lattes at your coffee shop or creating hairstyles at your salon, think about how you can punch up the visual aspect of your business to create shareable moments. Then promote your business’ social media accounts and engage with your customers on them.

 

RELATED ARTICLE: YOUR CONSUMER IS CHANGING: WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT MARKETING TO GEN Z

 

3. Be socially responsible. Millennials like to support businesses that share their values. That might mean your business taking a stand on a political issue, getting involved with a global charity or participating in local community events. Choose a cause that makes sense for your business (Millennials value authenticity—they know when you’re trying to fake it) and be sure to promote it in all your marketing materials. Think of ways your Millennial customers can get involved, too—they want to be participants, not just observers.

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4. Offer convenience. More than any other generation, Millennials are all about convenience, reports PWC’s Total Retail Survey 2016. In fact, one reason this generation surprisingly actually prefers to shop in-store rather than online is they can’t wait for even one-day shipping! “Ease of checkout” is highly important to Millennials in the PWC survey. Since this age group is wedded to its smartphones, be sure to offer digital loyalty programs so they don’t have to fumble for a plastic or punch card. Consider upgrading to near-field communications (NFC) contactless payment systems like Google Wallet and Apple Pay or, at minimum, offer mobile payments via smartphone or tablet in your store, so impatient Millennials can pay anywhere without having to wait in line.

 

5. Provide free Wi-Fi. For a Millennial, a business without Wi-Fi is like a business without oxygen—unthinkable. Make sure your store, waiting area or restaurant has it. Eight in 10 Millennials in PWC’s survey use their smartphones in-store, either to look up product information or ask friends’ opinions of a possible purchase. Setting up a separate guest Wi-Fi network with no password required offers optimum convenience for customers.

 

6. Let them customize everything. Millennials expect what they want the way they want it, and they like to express themselves through the products and services they purchase. The level of customization can range from simply being flexible with menu substitutions in your restaurant to offering “build-your-own-breakfast-burrito” options (and don’t forget about gluten-free, vegan and Paleo choices). If you sell services, try offering different menus of mix-and-match services, or different packages (bronze, silver, gold-level) with different services included.

 

7. Emphasize your independent status. As I mentioned, authenticity is important to Millennials, and there’s nothing more authentic than a small, independent business. Your marketing efforts should emphasize this. Tell the story of how you started your business; share how your product is produced or where it’s sourced; let customers get to know you and your staff through social media. Getting involved in your local business community, such as promoting shop-local initiatives or organizing “First Friday” sales, will help raise your profile as an independent business owner.

 

About Rieva Lesonsky

Rieva Lesonsky is CEO and Co-founder of GrowBiz Media, a custom content and media company focusing on small business and entrepreneurship, and the blog SmallBizDaily.com.  A nationally known speaker and authority on entrepreneurship, Rieva has been covering America’s entrepreneurs for more than 30 years. Before co-founding GrowBiz Media, Lesonsky was the long-time Editorial Director of Entrepreneur Magazine. Lesonsky has appeared on hundreds of radio shows and numerous local and national television programs, including the Today Show, Good Morning America, CNN, The Martha Stewart Show and Oprah.Lesonsky regularly writes about small business for numerous websites and for corporations targeting entrepreneurs. Many organizations have recognized Lesonsky for her tireless devotion to helping entrepreneurs. She served on the Small Business Administration’s National Advisory Council for six years, was honored by the SBA as a Small Business Media Advocate and a Woman in Business Advocate, and received the prestigious Lou Campanelli award from SCORE. She is a long-time member of the Business Journalists Hall of Fame.

Web: www.growbizmedia.com or Twitter: @Rieva

You can read more articles from Rieva Lesonsky by clicking here

 

Bank of America, N.A. engages with Rieva Lesonsky to provide informational materials for your discussion or review purposes only. Rieva Lesonsky is a registered trademark, used pursuant to license. The third parties within articles are used under license from Rieva Lesonsky. Consult your financial, legal and accounting advisors, as neither Bank of America, its affiliates, nor their employees provide legal, accounting and tax advice.

        

Bank of America, N.A. Member FDIC. ©2017 Bank of America Corporation

With so many ways to reach out to your customers and prospects, from social media to direct mail to content marketing, you might think plain old email marketing is a thing of the past. Think again: Despite all the marketing options out there, email just might be your single, most effective choice.

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Here are three reasons why:

 

1. Email is customers’ preferred way to receive communications from businesses. According to Marketing Sherpa, 60 percent of consumers say email is their favorite way to receive updates and promotions from companies they’re interested in.

 

2. Email attracts new customers and helps retain existing ones. Email is 40 percent more effective at acquiring new customers than Facebook or Twitter. It also ranks as, by far, the most effective method for both acquiring and retaining customers, according to eMarketer.

 

3. Email drives sales. Most (69 percent) U.S. adults say a company’s email has influenced a purchase they’ve made, Marketing Sherpa reports.

 

Not only is email marketing highly effective, it’s also affordable for even the smallest businesses and easier than ever to implement. To maximize your email marketing results, try these tips.

 

CLICK HERE TO READ MORE ARTICLES FROM SMALL BUSINESS EXPERT RIEVA LESONSKY

 

Segment your email lists.

You can slice and dice your lists based on any information you have about your customers—past interactions with your business, purchasing behavior, location, etc. Then send emails tailored to each segment. Marketers report that segmented email campaigns lead to a 760 percent increase in revenues (No, that’s not a typo).

 

Personalize emails.

Emails that use the recipient’s name are more likely to be opened. You can also create emails that reference customer details such as a previous purchase or items the customer has viewed on your website.

 

39764468_s.jpgTest, test and test again.

With email, it’s easy to see what’s working and what’s not. Do A/B testing of everything from your subject lines to your preview text to the color and size of buttons. Also test various frequencies for sending emails, including time of day and day of the week. Customers may want to hear from you more often than you think: 90 percent of respondents in a MarketingSherpa survey say they want to hear from businesses they’re interested in at least monthly, 60 percent want to hear from them at least weekly and 15 percent want to hear from them daily. For best results, give customers multiple options to choose from.

 

Optimize mobile devices.

Almost 90 percent of emails are read on mobile devices, and more emails are opened on mobile devices than on desktops, according to Kahuna. If recipients can’t read your emails on their smartphones, they’re going to delete them. Beyond making your emails readable on mobile devices, also make sure that any actions users take lead to a mobile-friendly landing page.

 

SIX TIPS TO GAIN NEW CUSTOMERS

 

Create email-specific landing pages.

Marketers report that this is the single most effective email marketing tactic, according to research published by the DMA.  If you can’t create a specific landing page for each individual email, at least make sure that links in your emails direct recipients to a page on your website that makes sense. For example, if you want someone to “Shop New Arrivals” on your e-commerce website, that button should go to the page with new products on it— not to the general homepage, where customers will feel lost.

 

Incorporate transactional emails.

These are emails that are triggered by some type of transaction between the recipient and your company. Welcome emails, order confirmation emails and return receipt emails are all examples of transactional emails. Transactional emails have eight times the open rate of marketing emails overall. Increase their value by including a call to action that drives additional customer interaction. For instance, a return receipt email could include a link to browse your website for new products to replace what was returned.

 

About Rieva Lesonsky

Rieva Lesonsky is CEO and Co-founder of GrowBiz Media, a custom content and media company focusing on small business and entrepreneurship, and the blog SmallBizDaily.com.  A nationally known speaker and authority on entrepreneurship, Rieva has been covering America’s entrepreneurs for more than 30 years. Before co-founding GrowBiz Media, Lesonsky was the long-time Editorial Director of Entrepreneur Magazine. Lesonsky has appeared on hundreds of radio shows and numerous local and national television programs, including the Today Show, Good Morning America, CNN, The Martha Stewart Show and Oprah.Lesonsky regularly writes about small business for numerous websites and for corporations targeting entrepreneurs. Many organizations have recognized Lesonsky for her tireless devotion to helping entrepreneurs. She served on the Small Business Administration’s National Advisory Council for six years, was honored by the SBA as a Small Business Media Advocate and a Woman in Business Advocate, and received the prestigious Lou Campanelli award from SCORE. She is a long-time member of the Business Journalists Hall of Fame.

Web: www.growbizmedia.com or Twitter: @Rieva

You can read more articles from Rieva Lesonsky by clicking here

 

Bank of America, N.A. engages with Rieva Lesonsky to provide informational materials for your discussion or review purposes only. Rieva Lesonsky is a registered trademark, used pursuant to license. The third parties within articles are used under license from Rieva Lesonsky. Consult your financial, legal and accounting advisors, as neither Bank of America, its affiliates, nor their employees provide legal, accounting and tax advice.

           

Bank of America, N.A. Member FDIC.  ©2017 Bank of America Corporation

You work hard to get new customers in the door—but what do you do to keep them there?

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Finding new customers is more difficult, expensive and time-consuming than keeping your existing ones happy. Plus, happy customers spend more. Boost your sales by trying these five tips to improve customer retention.

 

1. Market to your existing customers. When you see promotions from companies you do business with offering deals to new customers only, do you feel annoyed? You’re not alone. Marketing that focuses on new customers can make loyal customers feel snubbed. Create promotions and deals that benefit the customers who spend the most money with your business. For example, a B2B company can offer volume discounts; a retail company can offer “rewards,” such as $10 in-store spending money for every $50 spent within a certain period. The goal: Show your existing customers that the more they patronize your business, the greater the benefits.

 

2. Make post-sale follow-up part of your process. Whether you sell B2B or B2C, following up after the sale should be built into your operations.

  • A. If you sell B2B, you can use customer relationship management (CRM) software to track customers’ purchases, then set reminders to follow up at a certain point after the sale with a personalized email or phone call. It also allows you to answer any questions they may have about the product or service they purchased from you, and find out how it’s working for them. Reaching out not only shows them you care about building a lasting relationship, but also offers an opportunity to uncover complementary products or services that might add value to their business.
  • B. If you sell B2C, capture customers’ email addresses, then reach out soon after the sale to see if they have any questions or feedback about their purchase. Better yet, include a link they can use to write an online review of your business.

 

Click here to read more from small business expert Rieva Lesonsky

 

3. Listen to your customers.  The more you listen, the more you’ll understand what your current customers want and need, the better you can tailor your products and services to meet those needs, and the more customers you’ll retain. Encourage your salespeople to ask customers questions and share what they learn with the rest of the team. Conduct regular customer surveys to find out how your business is doing and what customers want that you’re not offering. Hold focus groups with loyal customers who represent key target markets for your business. Finally, listen to what your customers are saying on social media. Whether you engage them in a conversation or simply “lurk” and listen in, you’ll gain valuable insights into how you can serve them better.

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4. Create a VIP program. Treat your best customers like they’re VIPs—because they are! Consider instituting different levels of VIP programs, such as silver, gold and platinum. According to research cited by HelpScout, people will work to attain a higher level in the loyalty program when they know there are lower levels below. You can also host special events for your best customers, such as a “Customer of the Year” luncheon for a B2B company or a private, invitation-only sale for a B2C company.

 

Related article: How to Adjust Your Business to the Gig Economy

 

5. Provide outstanding customer service. No matter how many carrots you dangle in front of them, customers won’t remain loyal to your business if your service isn’t up to par. In fact, it’s got to be better than “up to par.” With so many alternatives available at the click of a mouse, both B2B and B2C customers have higher standards than ever for customer service. Convenience, rapid resolution of problems and knowledgeable salespeople are key factors in customer satisfaction. Conduct regular training in customer service standards, measure and monitor customer service performance, and reward employees who go above and beyond in providing customer service.

 

About Rieva Lesonsky

Rieva Lesonsky is CEO and Co-founder of GrowBiz Media, a custom content and media company focusing on small business and entrepreneurship, and the blog SmallBizDaily.com.  A nationally known speaker and authority on entrepreneurship, Rieva has been covering America’s entrepreneurs for more than 30 years. Before co-founding GrowBiz Media, Lesonsky was the long-time Editorial Director of Entrepreneur Magazine. Lesonsky has appeared on hundreds of radio shows and numerous local and national television programs, including the Today Show, Good Morning America, CNN, The Martha Stewart Show and Oprah.Lesonsky regularly writes about small business for numerous websites and for corporations targeting entrepreneurs. Many organizations have recognized Lesonsky for her tireless devotion to helping entrepreneurs. She served on the Small Business Administration’s National Advisory Council for six years, was honored by the SBA as a Small Business Media Advocate and a Woman in Business Advocate, and received the prestigious Lou Campanelli award from SCORE. She is a long-time member of the Business Journalists Hall of Fame.

 

Web: www.growbizmedia.com or Twitter: @Rieva

You can read more articles from Rieva Lesonsky by clicking here

 

Bank of America, N.A. engages with Rieva Lesonsky to provide informational materials for your discussion or review purposes only. Rieva Lesonsky is a registered trademark, used pursuant to license. The third parties within articles are used under license from Rieva Lesonsky. Consult your financial, legal and accounting advisors, as neither Bank of America, its affiliates, nor their employees provide legal, accounting and tax advice.

 

Bank of America, N.A. Member FDIC.  ©2017 Bank of America Corporation

Whether you own an e-commerce website, a brick-and-mortar retail store or both, succeeding in a rapidly changing retail marketplace is a challenge. Here are five consumer shopping trends you should know about for the coming year to make sure you’re ahead of the pack:

 

1. Mobile everythingRieva Lesonsky Headshot.png

Consumer time spent on mobile devices and the mobile Internet now surpasses that spent on desktops. Shopping on mobile devices hit record levels during the 2016 holiday season, with over $2.4 billion worth of purchases made on mobile devices on Black Friday and Cyber Monday alone, CIO reports. Your customers are browsing, buying and looking for retail locations on their mobile phones—and it doesn’t stop once they get into the store, where they use their phones to look at product reviews, information and pricing.

To be successful in 2017, retailers will need to up their mobile game. Start by making sure your business website is mobile-friendly and, if you have a physical store, that your online presence is optimized for local search. That means your business’s name, address and phone number should be consistent across all listings, from your website to your social profiles and online reviews. Offer customers free Wi-Fi in your store, and incorporate mobile advertising to get them in the door. This can range from sending SMS text messages to geo-fencing or geo-conquesting technology. (The former sends messages to users within a certain radius of your business; the latter sends messages to users within a certain radius of your competitors' businesses.)

Finally, if you haven't already incorporated mobile payment into your retail store, 2017 is the year to do it. Accepting payments on mobile devices speeds up checkout and provides greater flexibility. Also look into mobile wallet solutions, which are increasingly popular with younger consumers.

2. Convenience

Whether shopping in-store or online, consumers in 2017 are all about convenience. For e-commerce retailers, that means offering free shipping and returns and the ability to track shipments. Make shopping easier by letting customers set up accounts so they don't have to re-enter information every time they buy. Offer subscription programs for consumable products or “buy again” options for frequently ordered products.

Related article: How to Scale your Marketing Plan for Lasting Impact in the New Year

For brick-and-mortar retailers, convenience means a well-stocked store with well-trained staff that’s knowledgeable about your products. If you have both a physical and digital retail presence, consumers will expect to be able to order online, then pick up their products or return products in-store.

 

3. Personalization

Small retailers have long relied on the personal touch to give them an edge—and it works: an Accenture Interactive study reports that “56 percent of consumers are more likely to shop at a retailer in-store or online that recognizes them by name.” However, in 2017 you’ll need to go beyond just remembering faces. Smart retailers will use loyalty and membership programs to collect information about what their customers buy, how they shop and what offers they respond to. The good news: 54 percent of shoppers are willing to share personal information and shopping preferences with retailers in return for personalized offers, emails and other marketing materials.

In 2017, e-commerce retailers will use chat bots to answers customers’ questions, make suggestions and otherwise personalize the online experience. Brick-and-mortar retailers should focus on getting to know their customers and building loyalty with a “personal shopper” approach, such as having sales assistants contact customers when new shipments come in or set aside items they think regular customers might like.

4. Niche Retail 53028496_l.jpg

The end of 2016 saw several traditional department stores, such as Sears, JCPenney and Macy’s, struggle with disappointing sales; all three plan store closures. Online retailer Amazon announced it will open physical stores, while Target and Walmart are opening small-scale versions of their huge locations. What gives?

In 2017, small, specialized and independent retailers will capture customers’ hearts. Shoppers want unique products—hence the growing popularity of shops that specialize in artisanal and local goods. Instead of wandering the aisles of giant superstores or endlessly clicking among a selection of 25,362 different blue sweaters, shoppers are looking for small, welcoming stores that offer a carefully curated selection of products.

5. “Retailtainment”

Consumers of all ages are spending less on “things” and more on experiences. And if they do need to buy a “thing,” they can just pull out their phones. Given this shift, what will it take to lure shoppers into physical stores in 2017? People still want to gather in public places, touch and feel merchandise, and be entertained “in the real world.” The most successful retailers will tap into these desires and create a memorable experience by offering a mix of retailing and entertainment—call it “retailtainment.”

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New technologies such as augmented and virtual reality are already being implemented to add a new level of interaction to shopping at large retailers; in 2017, they’ll increasingly become available to even small businesses. You can also incorporate “retailtainment” using low-tech methods such as hosting events in your store or displaying work by local artists on your walls. Try holding a live fashion show in your clothing boutique or hosting cooking classes in your home goods store. Throw a special Saturday-night sale and invite a local band to play in-store. Small retailers can also piggyback on larger entertainment concepts by locating near movie theaters, restaurants and amusement arcades where consumers go for fun.

 

I think 2017 is going to be an exciting year for retail. By planning how your store will incorporate these five shopper trends, you can make it one of your most profitable years ever.

 

About Rieva Lesonsky

Rieva Lesonsky is CEO and Co-founder of GrowBiz Media, a custom content and media company focusing on small business and entrepreneurship, and the blog SmallBizDaily.com.  A nationally known speaker and authority on entrepreneurship, Rieva has been covering America’s entrepreneurs for more than 30 years. Before co-founding GrowBiz Media, Lesonsky was the long-time Editorial Director of Entrepreneur Magazine. Lesonsky has appeared on hundreds of radio shows and numerous local and national television programs, including the Today Show, Good Morning America, CNN, The Martha Stewart Show and Oprah.Lesonsky regularly writes about small business for numerous websites and for corporations targeting entrepreneurs. Many organizations have recognized Lesonsky for her tireless devotion to helping entrepreneurs. She served on the Small Business Administration’s National Advisory Council for six years, was honored by the SBA as a Small Business Media Advocate and a Woman in Business Advocate, and received the prestigious Lou Campanelli award from SCORE. She is a long-time member of the Business Journalists Hall of Fame.

Web: www.growbizmedia.com or Twitter: @Rieva

You can read more articles from Rieva Lesonsky by clicking here

Bank of America, N.A. engages with Rieva Lesonsky to provide informational materials for your discussion or review purposes only. Rieva Lesonsky is a registered trademark, used pursuant to license. The third parties within articles are used under license from Rieva Lesonsky. Consult your financial, legal and accounting advisors, as neither Bank of America, its affiliates, nor their employees provide legal, accounting and tax advice.             

Bank of America, N.A. Member FDIC.  ©2017 Bank of America Corporation

Was one of your New Year's resolutions to get more customers? Every small business needs a steady stream of new business to keep it going—and growing. Here are six ways to attract more customers in 2017.

 

1. Reach out to dormant customers. One often-overlooked way to get new business is to contact former customers who haven’t purchased from you in a while. Use loyalty marketing software or customer relationship management (CRM) software to track your customers so you can automatically follow up with them when a certain time period has passed. Depending on your business and the nature of the relationship, you can reach out to them with a phone call, email or special offer. This is also a good time to find out why they stopped doing business with you. For example, perhaps they experienced bad service or poor product quality and never told you about it.

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2. Get referrals. Word-of-mouth has always been a great source of new business for entrepreneurs. Accelerate yours by setting up a system for asking satisfied customers for referrals after every sale. For example, when you follow up with customers to make sure they’re satisfied with their purchases or to provide additional training, make it a habit to request referrals. You can also ask for referrals via email, inserts in paper bills or at the point-of-sale. Don’t stop at customers: ask friends, family, colleagues and even employees if they know anyone they can refer to your business.

 

Related article: 7 Ways to Boost Engagement from Your Social Media Posts

 

3. Offer a special for new customers only. This is a time-tested promotional tactic for a reason—it works. Try offering a two-for-one dinner special at your restaurant, a 30-day introductory membership to your karate studio or a free consultation with your accounting firm. You can either handle the offer yourself, or try using Groupon and similar services, which can help extend your reach. (Helpful tip: if you use such services, be sure to spread the deal over a long enough timeframe that your business doesn’t get overwhelmed. The goal is to attract new customers and wow them with your service so they’ll keep coming back—not to create angry customers because you ran out of product.)

 

4. Clean up your online presence. A few small changes to your business website and local search listings can make a huge difference in attracting more customers. Start by making sure your business website is mobile-friendly. Most people now look for businesses on their mobile phones, so if your website doesn’t display properly when they find you, they’ll look elsewhere.  After that, improve your website SEO by making sure you’re using the proper keywords to attract the right type of customer. SEO can get tricky, so it’s worth enlisting professional help here. Finally, if your business relies on nearby customers, make sure you’re easy to find using local search - this means claiming your listings on local search directories, such as Google My Business, and making sure these listings are complete and accurate. It’s important to be consistent in the spelling and capitalization of your business’s name, address and phone number (NAP) across all your online listings. This means you shouldn’t spell out “Street” in one listing and “St.” in another.

 

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5. Step up your digital marketing. Once your website, SEO and search listings are in order, investing in online advertising can help attract even more new customers. Try using pay-per-click (PPC) advertising—it’s easy to create your own ads that fit your budget. Plus, you pay only when someone clicks on your ad, so you know you’re getting results. Advertising on social media, such as Facebook or Pinterest, can also be very effective if your target customers spend a lot of time there. Social media advertising can target your ads very narrowly to specific customer groups, such as women who have children under age 5, live in St. Louis, and buy organic food.

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6. Co-market with related businesses. Other businesses can be a great source of new customers. How? Look for businesses that are complementary, but not competitive. For instance, if you own a pet grooming business, complementary businesses might include a

veterinarian’s office, a dog-walking service, a doggy daycare or a pet-sitting business. Contact these businesses and ask if you can cross-promote with them. For instance, you link to each other’s websites, put the other company’s brochures or business cards at your point of sale, place ads for the other business in your email newsletters, or recommend each other to customers.

 

These six tips are set up to help you win new customers. Once they’re in the door, it’s up to you to provide the kind of outstanding service that will keep them coming back.

 

About Rieva Lesonsky

Rieva Lesonsky is CEO and Co-founder of GrowBiz Media, a custom content and media company focusing on small business and entrepreneurship, and the blog SmallBizDaily.com.  A nationally known speaker and authority on entrepreneurship, Rieva has been covering America’s entrepreneurs for more than 30 years. Before co-founding GrowBiz Media, Lesonsky was the long-time Editorial Director of Entrepreneur Magazine. Lesonsky has appeared on hundreds of radio shows and numerous local and national television programs, including the Today Show, Good Morning America, CNN, The Martha Stewart Show and Oprah.Lesonsky regularly writes about small business for numerous websites and for corporations targeting entrepreneurs. Many organizations have recognized Lesonsky for her tireless devotion to helping entrepreneurs. She served on the Small Business Administration’s National Advisory Council for six years, was honored by the SBA as a Small Business Media Advocate and a Woman in Business Advocate, and received the prestigious Lou Campanelli award from SCORE. She is a long-time member of the Business Journalists Hall of Fame.

Web: www.growbizmedia.com or Twitter: @Rieva

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Bank of America, N.A. engages with Rieva Lesonsky to provide informational materials for your discussion or review purposes only. Rieva Lesonsky is a registered trademark, used pursuant to license. The third parties within articles are used under license from Rieva Lesonsky. Consult your financial, legal and accounting advisors, as neither Bank of America, its affiliates, nor their employees provide legal, accounting and tax advice.

                                                                                                                                  

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