Does it feel like winning customers keeps getting harder? Is the competition for sales seeming more fierce? That’s likely true.
Customers shopping for providers now have more information at their fingers than ever before. So when you pick up the phone, you’re potentially walking into a sales call with a highly informed prospect. If you don’t have a clear, unique selling proposition to stand out, it can have a direct impact on your bottom line.
From a potential customer's perspective, if your business becomes indistinguishable with any other provider in your area, your services look like a commodity. When that happens, clients push providers to compete on price alone, where you end up undercutting one another and compressing margins over time.
This kind of head-to-head price competition leaves you either fewer customers at all or fewer truly profitable customers who can negatively impact the health of your business.
Image Credit: Neil Patel
To combat this, you need to be the “one solution” which companies in your area turn when they're in need. That’s where your marketing comes in.
Here are some of the specific ways in which marketing efforts can have an impact on the value of a single customer, boosting retention, increasing trust, and helping you get more with what you already have.
Build Personal Connections
If a customer feels like they don't have a relationship with you, they're a customer at risk of leaving you for a competitor. A lack of a connection means a lack of loyalty and trust. You are just another service provider in their eyes – someone who does X, Y, and Z when they need it.
To overcome this transactional perspective, you need to find ways to personalize your interactions – building connections in a way that will go above and beyond the basics. That means:
"Thank you" notes on contract anniversaries
This kind of email is relatively straightforward to set up with most marketing automation tools by using your client's contract start dates. A thoughtful message from an owner thanking your client for their business goes a long way to boost renewals.
Send thoughtful, personalized gifts
Gifts are an "old school" client marketing tactic, but it's even more impactful now that almost all interactions are digital. A book, tickets to a game, a bottle of wine. Whatever physical item you think will most resonate with them and help to build your relationship further.
Ask for help closing new customers
Asking for a favor seems counterintuitive, but it's one of the best ways to build a connection with someone; it means you trust and value their judgment. Start by asking a client if they would be willing to serve as a reference for potential new customers by sharing their first-hand experience.
Ask For and Use Customer Feedback
Getting better should be at the core of every business’s mission. Continuous improvement of your services requires input from the people who rely on them to keep their businesses running, and yet many fail to collect customer feedback at all. Why? Because getting feedback is time-consuming.
Automated customer feedback tools like SimpleSat make this easy, allowing you to include CSAT and other kinds of customer surveys in your help desk tickets and email signatures. The tool allows you to use positive customer feedback on your website, so your marketing claims are immediately validated by real-time testimonials.
Live testimonials on prontomarketing.com
Successful feedback programs will solicit those who rate your services highly to see what they like and why, and follow-up with people who rank them lower to ask what their issues are and what improvements they would like to see.
Create a list of "high-value" customers
Beyond automation, make a habit of going to a short list of designated clients directly and ask for input on what new service offerings would benefit them most, what they feel you are missing, and how you can better communicate those things to them. Better yet, give them credit for offering those suggestions. When you launch a new program or service offering, use your marketing to give credit where credit is due. It'll show potential new customers that you will value them, too.
Be Responsive Through All Channels
Most businesses have some form of help desk and ticketing systems, like a ZenDesk or something similar. If there is a problem, your customers will reach out to you via those systems and ask for help or complain.
But today, these are far from the only channels they have to voice frustration. More and more people turn to social media, blog comments, and forums to complain or ask for advice from third parties. If someone feels like their service interaction was subpar, they’re more likely to complain to their colleagues than to follow-up with you and ask for a resolution.
Someone should be actively handling all of your social media channels – Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and anywhere else you have a presence – and you should have alerts set up for any references of your company. When there is a problem, jump in and try to resolve it.
Bad experiences trigger people to talk about your company at a rate 50% higher than good ones – be prepared for this and guide them through their issues. Not only can this save current customers; by being responsive to customers in a public forum, it can attract new ones.
"Niche Down" To Stand Out
One of the most common questions in sales calls with prospective customers is "What makes you different than your competitors?" Being an expert that specializes in serving a particular industry vertical makes this question much easier to answer and much harder for a potential customer to look at you as "just another provider," which keeps your perceived value high.
Specializing in a niche also makes your marketing better.
Speak the language of your customer
For example, if your business serves primarily tech startups, you can spend a few hours a month reading the top magazines, and influential blogs and Twitter accounts coming out of Silicon Valley. When you sit down to write your next marketing email, you'll know what themes are popular and which turns of phrase to use to signal to your reader that you "get" them.
Solve specific customer problems
Short, generic and salesy blog posts signal to readers that you're a low-value, lookalike vendor fishing for quick deals. Long-form blogs and other in-depth format marketing like webinars, and ebooks give you the opportunity to demonstrate your ability to provide solutions to common problems within your particular industry. You're building credibility with your details but also giving your reader the ability to make an ROI assessment on your services since every business problem represents some kind of cost, whether it be opportunity cost or actual cost.
Going Beyond the Transaction
It’s easy to get bogged down in the day to day – managing your team, staying ahead of your backlog of client requests, and coordinating with sales on new accounts. But with the right investment of time, tools, and practices, you can build a new way to look at your marketing. In short, that marketing happens at nearly every interaction you have with customers, prospects, or web visitors. Each of these touchpoints is an opportunity to demonstrate your abilities, why you're different, why you care, and why investing in your services, and sticking with you, is a good business decision – ultimately increasing the lifetime value of each customer and helping grow your business.