Starting a business of any sort is a noble challenge, and it’s only really after you start the business that you realize it needs a way to connect with people who need what you’re offering. Although that should be the first thought, but that is how it goes. Marketing is that key ingredient. We need to be able to connect with prospective customers, and that’s where all the difficulty in business comes in. You’ve heard the saying that sales solves all problems, well, the difficulty in business is generating that demand and sales.
Successful businesses are great at generating sales through any number of ways, they’ve honed that skill, optimized it and become adept at it. At the early stages of generating business there are some fundamental things that we need to have in place in order to ensure that prospective customers engage with our services or products, and that it is easy for them to move forward in a transaction with us. And so let’s look at all of what that entails and you’ll see how relatively simple it is to make sure that at the basic level we’re making impact with every prospective customer.
Let’s look at a home services business, for instance let’s look at a real estate services business that buys homes, buildings and helps homeowners sell their homes. Let’s imagine that this business owner has gotten three or four leads from word-of-mouth and is concerned about maintaining and keeping this momentum, what else could be done in order to ensure a good flow of deals or leads in the pipeline.
Employ testimonials on your website and social media.
Today we can remotely collect customer videos rapidly for video testimonials, video messages and things of that nature. So imagine after working with a customer/client you send them a link that will allow them to use their phone or computer to record a testimonial quickly. This was not possible before and required a far more arduous set up. The benefit of being able to capture testimonials in this form is that the testimonials look more authentic and less produced. Any prospective customer/client viewing the videos can identify with what they are seeing. There are a number of these different applications and here are 2 that I recommend.
- Boast.io allows video testimonials easily using a collection form. It’s the first application I started using with clients, and it works. Starting at $16 a month you get 10 monthly testimonials, a collection form to send to customers or put on your website. It allows you to record up to five minutes per video and your videos will not expire
- VideoPeel is another one of these many applications that allows you to capture customer testimonials remotely. Its pricing ranges from $0 dollars which allows you to capture videos that expire after seven days all the way to higher price points. However @ $69/ month you have access to 50 videos per month that you can elicit from your past customers and these will not expire.
Testimonials can be one of the most eye-catching, cost-effective, and convenient things you can do to generate and connect with prospective customers. Specifically, video testimonials are easier to do than ever. Using any one of the numerous applications for gathering remote testimonials, one can simply email the link to a past client asking them to give a video testimonial with their phone or computer. Then you can put that video on your website and your social media platforms where you have a presence.
Start with a Responsive one-page website. That is enough!
We live in a digital age, we all have cell phones, computers which we use to engage and interface with information. Information, like where to go for dinner, where is the closest movie theater, and what company to use to fix my pool. The website allows you to have a stake in that information space. People can visit your website to learn more information about what you offer and engage with the products and services you bring to the table.
Not much more is needed than a one page website that communicates your phone number and has a contact form from which prospective customers can reach you. A website should be streamlined to communicate what it’s viewer needs in order to make an informed decision, it needs to provide information that is pertinent to the prospective customer.
Here is an example from a recent client project: https://brokenhomebuyers.com/ – notice the focus on impactful design, a phone number and contact form all housed within a single page. All of this comes together to communicate a clear perspective on what the business is about and how to get in contact. All of this is communicated in a single page. This lowers the overall cost of a website, thereby streamlining and focusing it on engagement. Furthermore a one-page website is enough for 90% of most businesses. In the future, as revenue grows, you can decide to add blogs and other functionalities.
Develop a simple referral system to help your customers aid you in generating more business.
Past customers can be a very rich source of continuing and consistent leads for many years. But first we have to know how to engage that reciprocity aspect, basically we have to make it easy and reduce the friction in that process. One of the most wasteful things we can do is to do a good job for a customer and then never hear from them again. At the least we want them to review our service on Google review or on our Facebook pages or other places that they can review the great service that we provided for them.
Developing a referral system is simply the straightforward process of providing some incentive for past customers to help us generate additional business. Word-of-mouth is a great way to get more business, however the difficulty is always in scaling it and that’s where a referral system comes to play.
The one thing that I worked out for a client was to create referral dollars (image above) that have something like $20 or $50 or $100 or $200 printed on them; it all depends on the amount you’re willing to pay for a referral that you can close. We can then pass out these referral dollars to multiple people, we print it via a service like Vistaprint or our local print shop, and then we disseminate them. And, if anyone can refer us business they’ll get paid the amount of the referral box. This has proven very effective.
Use Door Hangers and other printed materials for direct marketing.
Door hangers and other physical materials are surprisingly very effective. We’ve moved into using tools like Google ads, Facebook ads, and other digital marketing strategies; but hanging a piece of paper on a door that communicates a product or service guarantees one thing, that whoever picks it up is going to at least look at it unlike spam that we automatically disregard and that is automatically trashed by our email systems.
During this coronavirus crisis many companies if not all companies have cut down their marketing budget because demand is severely depressed. And, working with my clients we had to find a different way, and a more cost effective way to reach people. We went back to using door hangers and printed materials. We would define a neighborhood that we’d like to make aware of our products and services, then I would design the door hanger to communicate what we offer, a phone number, and then we would find someone to go and hang it on peoples doors. This method has generated considerable business.
We had to look at other ways to build our pipeline because this year, presumably due to the crisis, people are not responding to ads, people are fearful of the lack of steady income, and many don’t have the funds to purchase from an ad. So, by going back to a more hyper targeted system whereby we looked at a neighborhood, assessed if they would need our services, and then put out flyers, this allowed us to bring costs down significantly. Using a service like Vistaprint, you can print out hundreds of flyers, door hangers, and other attention-getting collateral for this type of direct marketing.
Tie it all together with simple visual branding.
On top of everything, there’s a way to package our presentation in order to ensure that customers expect a positive interaction and we do that through branding. And we want prospective customers to expect a positive interaction because they’re not going to engage us in business if they expect a poor interaction. Let’s look at branding at its most simplest form. Branding is a consistency in presentation, in action, and in an overall approach.
Looking at the images that are within this content, they are all for a single company, and you can see the visual consistency in the colors, in the font and and how everything is expressed in alignment with a format. This takes care of the visual presentation. Think of a visual presentation that is consistent in the same way you think of a face you remember. If you see this combination of colors and content in another place you’re going to recognize company i.e. the face. That is a formation of a brand in the simplest terms.